Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) the S.J. Quinney College of Law will be reviewing the opening film at the Sundance 2020 Film Festival
8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m., MDT, Zoom Webinar Link »
Please join Dean Elizabeth Kronk Warner for her monthly dean’s book review. To honor the 30th Anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. The S.J. Quinney College of Law with be reviewing the movie, Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution. It was the opening film at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in Salt Lake City, Utah and it won the audience award for documentaries. The write-up below was composed by Leslie Francis, Professor of Law, SJQ College of Law.
Camp Jened, located down the road from Woodstock in the Catskill mountains, was a countercultural haven for teenagers with disabilities. The Jened campers wore tie-dyed T-shirts, cooked together, had sex, played music, swam, danced, and carried one another when they could. They had hierarchies, too; the “polios” were the best and the “cerebral palsies” occupied the bottom. Returning to their regular lives was often a terrible disappointment of inaccessible schools, unemployment, and unwelcoming communities.
A number of the Jened campers ended up in the independent living movement in Berkeley. There, they continued their support for one another and for others they came to know. The power of their solidarity became apparent when the federal government, with Joseph Califano as head of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare under President Jimmy Carter, stalled in issuing the regulations needed to implement the Rehabilitation Act. The Rehab Act prohibited discrimination on the basis of disability in all federally funded programs and became the prototype for the Americans with Disabilities Act enacted in 1990. Without regulations to enforce it, the Rehab Act had no impact. Judy Heumann led the sit in at the San Francisco federal building which lasted for 28 days and ultimately succeeded in getting the regulations signed.
Crip Camp, directed by Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht—himself a camper and later sound designer for Berkeley Rep and over 100 films—draws on extensive archival footage filmed at the camp and during the sit-in. The footage illustrates in many ways the fundamental premise of the disability rights movement: “Nothing about us without us.” In the film, people with very different disabilities improvise and make things work. The campers don’t always express affection in the way other teenagers might, but they express affection very effectively indeed. They don’t do things in the way other people tell them they should, but they get things done. Capability does not require conformity to normed expectations.
But the freedom of Camp Jened was not license. It was not the liberty to do what I want, so long as I don’t lie to you, cheat you, or (in the unforgettable image of Robert Nozick in Anarchy, State, and Utopia) leave a knife in your back. Its freedom built on solidarity: the commitment to support of one another that enables each to do more than they could do alone.
A statement from the ADA.gov website states: Throughout this 30th anniversary year, the Civil Rights Division is recognizing the many ways in which the ADA has transformed American society and enabled a generation of Americans with disabilities to thrive. At the same time, we recognize that many barriers to equal opportunity still remain. We recommit to our work of making the promise of the ADA a reality, enabling all Americans with disabilities to achieve their dreams and reach their full potential.
The full documentary may be viewed on YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFS8SpwioZ4
It is not required that you watch the move to participate in the movie review. The movie is rated R.
Leslie Francis, Professor of Law, S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah
Adina Zahradnikova, Executive Director, Disability Law Center
Dr. Angela M. Smith, Associate Professor, English and Gender Studies, Director, Disability Studies Initiative, University of Utah
1 hour Utah CLE credit (pending).