This Month in Disability History
December 2014

By Mike Reynolds
Ability Maine Staff

December 1, 1988 - World AIDS Day is first observed - World AIDS Day, observed December 1 each year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. AIDS has killed more than 25 million people, with an estimated 38.6 million people living with HIV, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. There is currently no cure or effective HIV vaccine. Treatment consists of highly active antiretroviral therapy which slows progression of the disease. As of 2010 more than 6.6 million people were taking them in low and middle income countries. Treatment also includes preventive and active treatment of opportunistic infections.It is common to hold memorials for those who have died of AIDS. For several years, Activists in the Visual Arts communities would observe "A Day Without Art", to emphasize the disparate losses
the Arts world  has suffered, as many prominent modern artists of all forms, died of the virus before any treatment was available.


December 3, 1982 - The United Nations declares December 3rd as the International Day of the Disabled Persons - The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons, 3 December, aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life. The theme of the Day is based on the goal of full and equal enjoyment of human rights and participation in society by persons with disabilities.


December 13th, 2000 - Al Gore Conceeds the 2000 Presidential Election - After a 5 to 4 ruling in the US Supreme Court in a court case titled Bush v. Gore,  which held that Gore was not entitled to recounts in the state of Florida, where widespread voter irregularities, absentee ballots and non-uniform standards for counting ballots from county to county. The ruling let stand the certification of the electoral votes from Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris to George W. Bush. Al Gore's concession speech capped off a election campaign where Gore had several events in which the Disability community was directly involved with the campaign, from Mr. Gore speaking at the NCIL national conference in July, to the inclusion of Kyle Glozier, a non-verbal teenage activist diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, giving a speech at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, to having Fred Fay and Becky Ogle work directly with campaign leadership. Gore won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on global
warming and the environment.


December 18th, 1947 - Judy Heumann is born - Judith Heumann commitment to disability rights stems from her personal experiences, she had polio at the age of 18 months, and has spent most of her life in a wheelchair.In 1970, she co-founded Disabled in Action in New York City. In 1977, she would be on of the leaders of the HHS sit-in, the longest occupation of a federal building in US History, to pass section 504, a precursor to the ADA. She co-founded the World Institute on Disability in 1983 with Ed Roberts and Joan Leon in 1983, serving as co-director until 1993. She served in the ClintonAdministration as Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services at the US Department of Education from 1993 to 2001. She is now the World Bank Group's Advisor on Disability and Development, leading the World Bank's work on disability and its integration into their programmes and projects. Heumann graduated from Long Island University in 1969 and gained a Master of Science degree in public health at the University of California, Berkeley in 1975. She has been awarded honorary doctorates by Long Island University in Brooklyn, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She was the first recipient of the Henry B. Betts Award from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (later awarded jointly by the American Association of People with Disabilities).