The Texas Disability History Collection emphasizes the pioneering role played by a racially and ethnically diverse cast of Texan disability rights activists, many of whom attended or have worked at UT Arlington, in fighting for equal access to education, work, union membership, public transit, and sports.
The collection reveals how, in the late 1960s, disabled students convinced UT Arlington administrators to make the campus accessible to students with a wide array of disabilities, eventually making the school into a model campus for Texas and the greater Southwest. UT Arlington alums Sam Provence and Jim Hayes not only led efforts to make higher education accessible, but also drove disability rights advocacy and independent living programs in Arlington and adapted sports in Texas, respectively. Other papers and images document disabled workers’ longstanding efforts to gain access to paid employment and insurance benefits and the efforts of earlier activists to create educational opportunities for children with disabilities at a time when public schools could legally bar them from attending, among other topics.
The oral histories showcase the voices of a wide variety of disability rights activists, athletes and coaches in adapted sports, advocates for higher education accessibility, and alumni of UT Arlington, among others. These interviews were conducted starting in 2013 by undergraduate Disability Studies Minors, graduate students in the Department of History, Sarah Rose, and Trevor Engel.