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Advancing rights and enhancing lives of people with disabilities

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CDR history

The Council for Disability Rights was started in the late 1970s by a group of Chicago area parents who were seeking basic school accommodations for children with various disabilities and found themselves badly frustrated with the dearth of useful, available information and assistance. Almost impossible to find was support for people concerned about their children's present and future capacity to participate in the larger community, and not simply their care or treatment. CDR was formally incorporated early in 1981 as Illinois' first consumer-controlled organization, representing all disability groups under one banner of public activism. By then, the organizers were experts on social rights and services for all disabled citizens, and natural leaders in Chicago of the disability rights movement coming alive throughout America. CDR has conducted myriad projects over the years.

CDR started out by publishing this newsletter, which still links its community today, and opening a public information, referral, and counseling line staffed by disabled volunteers, trained by human service professionals. CDR staged a political participation campaign (1983) featuring outreach and training by disabled deputy registrars, publication of politicians' positions on pertinent issues, candidates' forums, and the establishment of accessible polling places. Throughout the years, CDR has conducted seminars on public education rights for parents of children with disabilities. CDR was the lead organizer of the Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois (1985), an association formed to build state support for the disability rights movement. More than 45 local chapters and affiliate organizations and a thousand individuals were drawn into Illinois' largest permanent assembly of disability rights and service advocates. The CDR Legal Center (1990-93) helped introduce more than 6,000 local citizens and institutions to their rights and obligations under the ADA via seminars and personal contact and trained 250 legal advocates at Independent Living Centers to do likewise in all parts of the state. CDR's Job Preparation Program for the Illinois Department of Rehabilitation Services trained an average of 125 clients each year for job entry, placing as many as 50 per year into lasting jobs. Through CDR's Travel Training Program for the Chicago and Regional Transit Authorities, which helped improve service and increase the numbers of disabled riders, more than 4,500 CTA and RTA employees learned personal awareness and accommodation habits regarding disabled consumers. CDR showed 100 city and suburban patrons each year how to ride the buses and trains, as an alternative to the system's meager provision of paratransit service.

In 1994, CDR produced and began distributing a national award-winning videotape on inclusion that is most useful to start new discussion of the subject. By selling the video through a network of buyers and users, CDR is examining the market for videotapes as a major medium, perhaps, of organized policy discussion and is notifying interested parties of its intent to pursue the matter further, dealing concretely with the practice of inclusion in the Illinois schools. CDR is looking first at programs for deaf students toward making those children's and their families' interests the first to be treated.

Donations to CDR are invited at all times. Each gift is acknowledged by mail and is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Your contribution is encouraged at the workplace via the Public Interest Fund of Illinois (PIFI) and/or any program where your employer will match your gift. If you can donate via PIFI, please name CDR as the recipient.


Council for Disability Rights

Knowing your rights is the easy part. Exercising them can be a bit trickier.

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