THE EVOLUTION OF UNIVERSAL DESIGN
Achieving Mainstreaming and Independent Living Goals
Mainstreaming means mixing people with disabilities among the rest of society--in housing, schools, and other community facilities. Rather than being isolated, they want to do the same things that others their age normally do. Typically, they prefer to do for themselves and NOT be dependent on others.
Mainstreaming is the first step toward independent living. Section 504 of the 1973 federal Vocational Rehabilitation Act funded Independent Living Centers (ILCs) to help obtain education and training, accessible or adapted housing, and transportation for people with disabilities. Other ILC services include providing assistive devices or technologies, and helping find jobs that pay a living wage (if possible).
Most people in the Disability Community do NOT require mobility devices. To enter the mainstream, individuals with low vision, hearing loss, developmental disabilities, and/or mental illness are more likely to need adapted living and work environments, plus help with any Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) they can't do by themselves.
In 1975, the federal Education for All Children Act (later renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA) began to mainstream children with disabilities. They became the first generation of children who previously would have been institutionalized, to grow up at home and go to public schools. Over the past 25+ years, a slowly rising number have earned college degrees, married, raised families, and pursued economically rewarding careers. (Can you name two recent Miss Americas who have disabilities?)