Its Our Story

It's Our Story National Launch at National Press Club, Washington DC

On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)—the world's first comprehensive civil rights law for people with disabilities. Now 19 years later the law still resonates with a powerful history and that is impacting everything from the Healthcare bill and Justice Sotomyer’s nomination, to the race for the American presidency.

On the eve of the 19th Anniversary of the ADA a broad coalition of organizations—representing the 54 million Americans with disabilities—will launch the “It’s Our Story” national initiative. “It’s Our Story” is a video oral history project that uncovers the power, pride, and personal struggles of living with a disability. The "It’s Our Story" initiative is the most ambitious and holds the most comprehensive history of this unique civil rights struggle,” said Judith Heumann, Director of the Department of Disability Services for the District of Columbia and one of the most illustrious leaders of the disability community. Scott Cooper, the project’s director, states that, “at the project’s core lie over 6000 testimonies of what is was like, is and should be like to live with a disability in America.”

Today, 54 million people in the United States live with some type of disability. After years of stigma, discrimination, and social exclusion, people with disabilities still encounter barriers. Victor Pineda, a new generation leader of the movement has been supporting the national initiative through his foundation. Mr. Pineda states that “It's a uniquely American story and challenges our most fundamental values of freedom, autonomy, and independence. However, barriers still exist for young people with disabilities. Our community still has the highest unemployment rate, the highest poverty rate and the highest social isolation barriers to overcome.”

"It’s Our Story" shares unique knowledge, personal insight, and shares the wisdom necessary to unlock our human potential. By October of 2009, one thousand people from one hundred cities will have contributed their personal video testimony. The “It’s Our Story” Project is a tribute to the late Justin Dart Jr. Mr. Dart collected over five thousand testimonials from all fifty states to show the dilemma that people with disabilities faced, and by so doing paved the way for the landmark American with Disabilities Act.

On July 26, 2010, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act of 1990, a virtual social network website will be premiered. A modern communication tool to disseminate information to our next generation of leaders and the communities they serve. This website will be easily accessible for people with disabilities. We expect “It’s Our Story,” to accomplish the following:

• People with and without disabilities from all backgrounds recognize themselves in these oral histories and stories, and will be inspired to assume leadership roles in their communities;

• The general public will come to understand that those of us with disabilities are just like them, having the same dreams, hopes, fears, and desires for a good and meaningful life;

• Policy-makers will acquire knowledge to make better decisions that affect people with disabilities, and will understand the wisdom of partnering with people with disabilities when making decisions and crafting policy;

• Researchers, students, teachers, and trainers will be able to use the archive for educational projects, to create training materials, and research a variety of disability-related issues.

• People with and without disabilities will be able to use the website archive to assemble education and outreach projects, and in the process acquire skills in media, filmmaking, journalism, advertising, and communications.

About the Victor Pineda Foundation
The Victor Pineda Foundation (VPF) is an educational non-profit organization that promotes the rights and dignities of young people with disabilities. Our fieldwork and research initiatives further an inclusive human and civil rights approach to disability programs and policies. We work to build inclusive societies where young people with disabilities can develop their talents, skills and abilities and reach their full potential. Toward this goal, the VPF also collaborates with regional and global institutions in delivering its research and training programs.

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For more information contact: Ann Welch, Operations Director, Victor Pineda Foundation or Direct: 818-445-4816

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