Documentary details disability rights movement

October 21, 2011 7:33:35 AM PDT
For the first time, the history of the disability rights movement has been visually documented.

The documentary "Lives Worth Living" takes viewers through the disability rights movements from pioneers, legislators and other individuals including the president and CEO of Chicago's Access Living, Marca Bistro.

"Living with a disability can be a really wonderful thing. It's so much about the way you perceive yourself. You have a great deal to do with that but it's also a struggle to battle against society stereotypes about people with disabilities," Bistro said.

When Bistro became disabled 34 years ago, efforts were just starting to organize the disability community.

"It was segmented by people with different disability types and when the independent living movement emerged, started by people like Ed Roberts and Judy Heumann, Lex Frieden, people who are in the documentary, they really understand that we had to unite and that we had much more in common then," Bistro said. "We did different and it was only when we came together that we were able to create a network of people all over the country working towards a common goal and that unity of purpose across disability was the momentum was what led to the Americans with Disabilities Act," Bistro said.

This documentary is an important part of history.

"Because it validates everything that we believe in, all the struggles we have been through as a collective community and the incredible things we have accomplished together. The reason why I think it hasn't been done at this level before are typed up in the way people perceive disabled people. Either we're out of sight and out of mind. which is the biggest way I think people see us. We're invisible," Bistro said.

Bistro says that every person with a disability has their own story.

"Whether it's the people who are working right now to get people out of nursing homes; whether it's the people that organized ADAPT; and people who in order to bring public attention to the inaccessibility of our world got out of their wheelchairs and climbed up the stairs of our capital," Bistro said. "Many people look at people with disabilities as tragic figures to be pitied -- it's almost as if they think living with a disability makes life not worth living and we're here to say the opposite."

"Lives Worth Living" will air on the PBS series Independent Lens on Thursday October 27 at 10 p.m.

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