Protest flier by the organization American Disabled for Accessible Public Transit (ADAPT), 1983. This flier invited “wheelchair users from every state whose dream is a totally accessible bus system” to take a stand against the American Public Transit Association during their national convention held in Denver during October 1983. The flier described the protests as a “chance to demand our right to board every public bus in the nation” and encouraged picketing, rallies, demonstrations, and “wild parties” to disrupt the conference, which was attended by Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole, Vice President George Bush and Presidential Candidate Gary Hart.
The year 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the result of the nationwide civil rights movement led by the Colorado-based organization, ADAPT. Reverend Wade Blank founded ADAPT in 1983. Blank came to Colorado in 1971 to work in a nursing home and soon envisioned a way for people with disabilities to live independently. He created the Atlantis Community in 1975. In July 1978, members of Atlantis staged a protest against Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) on the corner of Colfax and Broadway. Their chants of “We will ride” began a disability rights movement in Colorado that grew to be nationwide.
This artifact is representative of a series of protests that ADAPT—a grassroots community dedicated to non-violent disability rights activism— organized in their fight to make public transportation accessible to all. ADAPT members blocked buses with their wheelchairs, picketed transportation conventions, and held sit-ins at government and corporate offices. Their civil disobedience tactics often lead to members being arrested and taken to jails unequipped for wheelchairs. Without these protests, lifts on buses, sidewalk curb cuts, and ramps in public places would not be required as they are today under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Denver Public Library
10 W 14th Ave Pkwy
Denver, CO 80204