Visions for International Support Organizations
George A. Zitnay
This chapter provides a historical overview of the development of American and international disability advocacy groups, as well as discussing the National Head Injury Foundation (NHIF). It presents a model for a new International Brain Injury Association, and discusses its purposes and functions. In addition, new brain-injury research ideas are presented.
Before I can talk to the future of international support organizations for people with disability, it is necessary to recount a short history of this major movement.
In the United States, one of the first voluntary support organizations was the Association for Retarded Children (ARC). Founded over 41 years ago by parents of children with mental retardation because of their frustration in getting needed services, this voluntary, not-forprofit organization, composed of affilliate chapters across the United States, has grown into one of the most effective advocacy and lobbying organizations working on behalf of persons with mental handicaps. Through the efforts of the ARC, legislation providing for construction of community facilities was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1963. The most sweeping legislative accomplishment was the passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children's Act in 1975, which provided for free public education of all children under 21 years of age with