The lives and times of developmentally disabled people began to change for the better during the Civil Rights Movement in 1960. What started off as protests by groups of headstrong and determined individuals, demanding rights for themselves and for others historically turned to to the ultimate turning point in the long history of torture and ill-treatment of the developmentally disabled. A significant change that this movement thought about was awareness among people that the developmentally and intellectually disabled were capable of living life on their terms. They did not require constant medical attention and neither did they have to be institutionalized. Adaptive technology was used to create a world that was better-suited for disabled individuals- one in which they could study, work, travel and care for themselselves independently.
History has shown us that the abuse and disregard for developmentally disabled or mentally retarded individuals in the past greatly stemmed from ignorance. The world today heavily depends on education, science and technology. Education has allowed us to understand disabled people and treat them with compassion instead of looking down upon them with fear or revulsion. Science has allowed us to set up medical treatments for the developmentally and intellectually disabled that are humane and legally appropriate. The disabled are no longer tied to beds, locked up in cellars or treated as guinea pigs for medical experiments. Numerous laws exist that not only protect but also work towards bettering their dignity and health. Technology allows us to create a world that is suited to the needs of disabled individuals so that they do not need to look for assistance for little things like moving from one room to another or simply using the bathroom.
The world that has spent years thoughtlessly abusing the developmentally and intellectually disabled has in the last few decades come a long way. Over the last few years, we have also witnessed witness to the miracles that equal opportunities can do for disabled individuals. Several of disabled people have attained extraordinary heights of success and are paving the way for a future where the developmentally disabled are respected for their strength and confidence instead of pitied for their condition.
Today, people with disabilities live in normal communities with other people of all abilities. The intellectual and developmentally disabled person works at some of the same places and completes the same task as any other person. The disabled are working diligently each and every day to overcome stereotypes and barriers to be recognized as valued and important members of their community.