Disability Rights

Accessibility for Everyone

Local Advocacy Outpaces National Policy

Currently 1 in 8 Americans experience a disability that affects mobility, and millions more will face a short-term disability affecting mobility at some point in their lives. People experiencing disabilities often struggle to negotiate dangerous and inconvenient obstacles in the built environment. The ADA was signed into law in 1990, but long before that, in 1972, the City of St. Petersburg established the Committee to Advocate for Persons with Impairments to do just as the name implies.

Fighting for Local Accessibility

St. Pete resident George Locasio spent more than thirty years using a wheelchair or crutches. He fought for accessibility throughout Tampa Bay, including suing the City over inadequate seating for the disabled at what was then the Florida Suncoast Dome—a case which resulted in more accessible seating and greater accessibility in restrooms and the concession areas. In 2006, at the age of 80, Locascio was recognized for his advocacy work and awarded a lifetime achievement award from Abilities, Inc.

Disability Rights Movement and Accessible Design

Like so many others, the disability rights movement adopted many of the strategies of the civil rights movement in order to make change. Years of organizing, lawsuits, demonstrations, and broadened awareness and understanding have made public and private space more accessible to people with disabilities, but there is still work to be done. Disability-conscious design benefits from the “Curb Cut Effect,” which reasons that all people benefit from more accessible design initially intended to serve the disabled.

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Your History Matters to Our Future

A History of Civil Rights and Social Change in Pinellas County was researched and co-curated by local historians Gwendolyn Reese and Jon Wilson.

Far from an exhaustive account of Pinellas County’s history, this overview is an evolving project that serves as an entry point for education, understanding, and further exploration.

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