This Month in Disability History
By Michael Reynolds for Ability Maine
May 1, 1956 - The polio vaccine developed by Jonas Salk is made available to the public.
The Salk Vaccine, discovered in April, 1955, was made available on this
date. Salk, who did not patent the vaccine as he had no desire to
profit from his discovery, and instead encouraged the vaccine to be
manufactured and disseminated throughout the world. In 1963, he founded
the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California,
which is a leading center for medical and scientific research. He
continued to conduct research and publish books. Dr. Salk's last
years were spent searching for a vaccine against AIDS.
May 12, 1967 - Stephen Colbert was born.
Colbert, a comedian, journalist and "conservative" pundit for Comedy
Central's "Colbert Report" When he was younger, he had hoped to study
marine biology, but surgery intended to repair a severely perforated
eardrum caused him inner ear damage sufficient to rule out a career
that would involve scuba diving, as well as leaving him deaf in his
right ear, Colbert would find Theater a suitable outlet, and become
involved with Improvisational theater, landing roles in "Strangers with
Candy", and "The Daily Show" before landing his satirical role on "The
Colbert Report." In Early 2014 it was announced he will host The Late
Show when David Letterman retires later this year.
May 15, 1995 – Ed Roberts wheelchair donated to the Smithsonian.
While Ed Roberts, the founder of the modern independent living
movement, died in March of 1995, his memorial was not until Monday, May
15, 1995. Ed's memorial was to be held in conjunction with the NCIL
conference. Roberts had his memorial at one of the Senate Office
Buildings. After his wheelchair was towed by several leaders of
the independent living movement to the Smithsonian. In 2000, in
conjunction with the celebration of the tenth anniversary of The
Americans with Disabilities Act, The Smithsonian showcased an exhibit
on the history of the disability rights movement.
May 18, 1980, Ian Curtis commits suicide.
Ian Curtis, the enigmatic lead singer of the post punk band Joy
Division would commit suicide, leaving a wife and infant daughter.
Curtis had severe Epilepsy that was getting progressively worse. Hailed
in the United Kingdom as a band who were recreating and defining the
definition of punk music. His death came hours before the band was to
depart for their eagerly anticipated first American Tour. The
surviving members of the band formed the electronic group New Order,
whose music would be the basis for much of the electronic and
dance genres of today. Bands as varied as U2, The Cure, Nine Inch
Nails, The Smiths and the Smashing Pumpkins have cited Curtis as
a major influence. Joy Division’s best known single is "Love will Tear
us Apart". “Control”, A stunning biographical film about Mr. Curtis,
Directed by Anton Corbin was released in 2007. The remaining members of
Joy Division went on to form New Order, whose music would focus on
distinctive electronic dance music and would chart a number of hit
singles through the eighties and the nineties.
May 27, 1995 – Christopher Reeve Paralyzed
Christopher Reeve was paralyzed in an accident during the cross country
portion of an Eventing competition, located in Culpepper, Virginia and
became a ventilator dependent quadriplegic. He spent much of the rest
of his life lobbying on behalf of people with spinal cord injuries, and
for human embryonic stem cell research after this accident. He founded
the Christopher Reeve Foundation and co-founded the Reeve-Irvine
Research Center. He returned to acting and wrote several books,
including one with his wife, Dana. Reeve died at age 52 on
October 10, 2004, from cardiac arrest caused by a systemic infection.