Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

The 7 Wonders of the World of Disabilities

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

The 7 Wonders of the World of Disabilities

Article excerpt


I'm sure you saw the coverage in 2007--everywhere from USA Today to National Geographic. The New 7 Wonders of the World organization announced a shiny new list of the world's premier candidates. (For more information, visit A whopping 100 million global citizens cast their votes, naming their picks for the seven international representatives of historical human heritage. What topped the list? Rome's coliseum; Machu Picchu, the Amazon's city in the clouds; India's Taj Mahal; the Mayan temple city of Chichen Itza, Rio de Janeiro's monolithic, Christ the Redeemer; China's Great Wall; and the Palace Tombs of Petra.

At Exceptional Parent magazine, we were intrigued and inspired by the New 7 Wonders undertaking, and it started us thinking. If we had to name the 7 Wonders of the World of Disabilities, what or who would they be? Would it be historical breakthroughs or would modern and still-developing wonders rise like cream to the top of the list? What events, inventions, legislation, people, groups, etc. have most significantly shaped, affected, or defined the world of disabilities?

During the past year, EP's editorial staff spent time talking with leaders in the disabilities field in narrowing down the list. Choosing just seven was the greatest challenge. Some "wonders" were chosen because they represent some of the earliest, most tangible vestiges of a concept or idea (oftentimes the precursor or path-paver for much of the technology and services on which we depend today) and others because of the promise they hold for future generations. The 7 Wonders of the World of Disabilities are presented as a group with no ranking. Do you have thoughts and comments about our top seven picks? Let us know by emailing to

Landmark Legislation

For those with disabilities, key federal legislation, much of which followed from the trail blazed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, has guaranteed various rights under the law--everything from the right to having accessible housing, public buildings, and voting booths, to a free and appropriate public education and the right to access technology that aids in daily living. Chosen as a member of of EP's 7 Wonders under the category of Landmark Legislation are the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), because of its sweeping guarantee of rights in so many aspects of the life of a person with disabilities and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) because of its far-reaching benefits for children with disabilities in receiving a "free and appropriate public education." (See Editor's Note below.) The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division provides the following information about each.

The Americans with Disabilities Act: "The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, State and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications. It also applies to the United States Congress. To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability or have a relationship or association with an individual with a disability. An individual with a disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered."

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H. W. Bush. The Act is divided into the following sections: Employment, Public Services (and public transportation), Public Accommodations (and Commercial Facilities), Telecommunications, and Miscellaneous Provisions. Noteworthy is the way that many disparate groups came together to promote the Act and see it through to passage. …

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