Tapes and transcripts for the radio documentary series Beyond Affliction: The Disability History Project can be ordered by calling (303) 823-8000.
RADIO PROJECT HISTORY
Beyond Affliction: The Disability History Project began when Producer Laurie Block found herself asking questions
about how popular culture attitudes about disability came to be,
how they have changed, and what kinds of consequences they had for people with disabilities and their families.
Even though the life that a person with a disabling condition
can look forward to today is very often, though certainly not
always, radically different from what it might have been just
20 years ago, there has been little intergenerational discussion
about the experience of having a disability. Disability history
has not been widely studied, it's a relatively new field--although
there is a substantial medical history literature related to important
aspects of the disability experience.
The passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 extended
to people with disabilities the civil-rights protections which
have been extended to blacks, women, and minorities. It opened
a broad front of new possibilities for people with disabilities,
though--like other major civil rights legislation --it will take
many years for the consequences to reveal themselves. This modern disability rights movement has also
inspired a community to reconsider its own past.
In the four programs of the on-air radio series, Block takes the
listener on a personal journey as she searches for the shared
experience of people with disabilities and their families.
This site contains many primary source documents--images and texts--that
she encountered as she sought answers to the projects original
proposition--how have popular culture attitudes about disability
come to be.
The site is by no means a comprehensive history resource. It
aims to introduce web browsers to sources, evidence, materials,
and ideas that allow all of us to begin thinking anew about what
the experience of disability means today and has meant to the generations that have come before.
Unless indicated otherwise, the material in this site has been
assembled and texts have been written by the staff of Straight
Ahead Pictures, Inc. (SAP) with the help of its project advisory
The work on this project has been done over a period of several
years. Initial research and development funds came from several
state humanities councils including: the New York Council for
the Humanities, the California Humanities Council, the Connecticut
Humanities Council and the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities,
as well as the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Outreach development funds came from The Boston Globe Foundation.
All phases of the project, including the website, have been supported
by the Corporation For Public Broadcasting. Radio production and
website construction was generously supported by AT&T 'It's All Within
Your Reach.' The website has received additional support from Ken
and Lucy Lehman of the New Prospect Foundation.
In 1996, Producer Laurie Block joined with Producer Jay Allison
to make the four programs in the on-air radio series. In this work, they were also
joined by Block's longtime partner at Straight Ahead Pictures'
Inc., John Crowley.
RADIO PRODUCER BIOGRAPHIES
Series producer and host Laurie Block, an award-winning filmmaker and director/producer of the feature
documentary FIT: Episodes in the History of the Body, has been
writing and researching historical documentaries since 1980 for
PBS, HBO, National Geographic, and numerous independent film makers.
Block also co-directs a partnership between local history museums,
public schools, and her company-- Straight Ahead Pictures, Inc.--
that is developing a curriculum website to teach media literacy
Jay Allison, one of public radio's leading independent producers, has won
most of the major awards in broadcasting including the coveted
Edward R. Murrow Award and the Peabody Award. His work is heard
on All Things Considered, This American Life and other national
and international programs. Allison also reports, shoots, and
produces Specials for ABC News Nightline.
John Crowley has been a documentary film and television writer for nearly
thirty years. Films he has written have been selected for major
film festivals and have won numerous awards. He has specialized
in the archival documentary, writing films on the attack on Pearl
Harbor, the 1939 World's Fair, the Depression, the 1950s bomb-shelter
hysteria, and (with Laurie Block) fitness in America --among many
other topics. He is also a respected novelist, winning the American
Academy and Institute Award for Literature and the World Fantasy
Award (twice). He teaches writing at Yale University.
Straight Ahead Pictures, Inc.
Laurie Block - Project Director
Center for Computer - Based Instructional Technology
David "Goose" Gosselin
Right Angle, Inc.
Kelly Meeks, consultant
A. Piccolo Graphics
PROJECT ADVISORY BOARD
Over several years Straight Ahead Pictures has enlisted the
help of scholarly and community advisors. All have helped
shape the historical vision of Beyond Affliction: The Disability
DR. ADRIENNE ASCH, Henry R. Luce Professor of Biology, Ethics
and the Politics of Human Reproduction at Wellesley College. An
active member of the disability rights movement and a bio-ethicist,
much of Professor Asch's recent work has involved the ethical
implications of genetic screening and pre- and neo-natal testing
DR. DOUGLAS BAYNTON, Assistant Professor, University of Iowa, with a joint
appointment to the Department of History and the American Sign
Language Program, University of Iowa, has written extensively on
the history of the deaf in the U.S. His newest book is Forbidden
Signs: American Culture and the Campaign Against Sign Language, 1996.
DR. EDWARD D. BERKOWITZ, Professor of History and Public Policy
at George Washington University, has to date published eight books
on disability and U.S. public policy, including America's Welfare
State: From Roosevelt to Reagan.
DR. ROBERT BOGDAN, Professor of Social Sciences at Syracuse University,
has spent considerable time analyzing cultural attitudes towards
people with disabilities. He is the author of several books, including Freak Show: Presenting
Human Oddities for Amusement and Profit.
HUGH GREGORY GALLAGHER, a consultant for the Library of Congress
and the United States Holocaust Museum, conceived and drafted
the language of the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968. He is
the author of FDR's Splendid Deception.
DR. NORA ELLEN GROCE, Assistant Professor, Yale School of
Public Health, is the author of several books, including the critically acclaimed book
Everyone Here Spoke Sign Language: Hereditary Deafness on Martha's
DR. ALAN GUTTMACHER, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the
University of Vermont College of Medicine and Director of the
Vermont Regional Genetics Center, is a clinical geneticist whose
work, on a daily basis, brings him in contact with the variety
of ethical attitudes to, historical misconceptions about, and
new social possibilities available for people with disabilities
and people related to individuals with disabilities.
DR. PETER DOBKIN HALL is Director of the Program on Non-Profit
Organizations, Institution for Social & Policy Studies, Yale University,
where he directs the Project on the Changing Dimensions of Trusteeship
(funded by the Lilly Endowment) and the Project on the History
of Philanthropy and Volunteerism.
DR. PAUL LONGMORE, Assistant Professor of History, San Francisco State
University, has written widely on the history of disability, ethical
issues in medicine and law relating to disability, and the portrayal
of disability in media.
DR. MARTHA MINOW, Professor Harvard Law School, is a distinguished
scholar of legal issues related to children, the family, gender
and difference. Her 1990 book Making All the Difference: Inclusion,
Exclusion, and American Law provides the reader with a broad understanding
of the history of legal ideas about difference--human and cultural.
DR. MARTIN PERNICK, Professor of History, University of Michigan,
is the author of several books on the history of medicine in the
US, including The Black Stork: Eugenics, Motion Pictures, and
Medical Refusal to Treat Impaired Newborns in Progressive-Era
America. His next work, Bringing Medicine to the Masses: Motion
Pictures and the Revolution in Public Health, focuses on how motion
pictures revolutionized dissemination of public health information
during the first third of this century.
MARSHA SAXTON works for the World Institute on Disability, Berkeley,
CA. She has written and lectured widely on the varied experiences
of people with disabilities and their families, with a focus on
those issues involving women and reproduction.
DR. RICHARD K. SCOTCH is Associate Professor of Sociology and
Political Economy at the School of Social Sciences, the University
of Texas, Dallas. He is a member of the Board of Directors of
the Society for Disability Studies and a Fellow of the International
Exchange of Experts and Information in Rehabilitation. He is the
author of From Good Will to Civil Rights.
JOHN VAN CLEVE is a professor of history at Gallaudet University,
and the Director of Gallaudet University Press. He is the author
of a Place of Their Own, a history of the American deaf community.
Two key project advisors--IRVING ZOLA, founder of the Society
of Disability Studies (SDS) and Professor of Sociology at Brandeis
University, and ED ROBERTS, co-founder of the Berkeley Center
for Independent Living and the World Institute On Disability--have
recently died, but their contributions to this project continue.
PICTURE SOURCE CREDITS
Images Provided by:
STRAIGHT AHEAD PICTURES, INC.
The 504 Anniversary Committee
John E. Allen
The American Antiquarian Society
American Foundation for the Blind
The ARC of the United States
Boeing Corporation Archives
The Robert Bogdan Collection
Connecticut Historical Society
Elyria, Ohio Rotary Club
The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library
Gallaudet University Archives
Kansas Historical Society
Library of Congress
National Easter Seal Society
National Library of Medicine
National Museum of Health and Medicine
Shomberg Collection, New York Public Library
Syracuse University Library
Yale University Library
Straight Ahead Pictures, Inc. (SAP) is a media production company
that does consulting, researching, writing, and production for
broadcast, the Internet, museums, schools, and corporations. We
specialize in historical documentaries, and have wide-ranging
expertise in archival research--film, television, radio, print,
and photographic archives, private and public media collections,
and government repositories. This includes the National Archives,
the Library of Congress, the National Library of Medicine, the
American Antiquarian Society and many lesser-known collections.
The topics that SAP has devoted itself to include HEALTH, FITNESS,
MEDICINE, THE HUMAN BODY, and TWENTIETH CENTURY AMERICAN HISTORY
In collaboration with a small Massachusetts museum--the Pocumtuck
Valley Memorial Association, a rural school district, and the
Massachusetts Cultural Council, SAP is currently engaged in a
multi-year project to develop a media literacy curriculum for
K-12 students that is based on the historical evolution of today's
media culture. Helping students and teachers use the Internet
to access historical materials is a major project goal.
SAP's media work has been funded by many state humanities and arts councils, as well as the National Foundation for
the Humanities, the MacArthur Foundation, the Corporation for
Public Broadcasting, AT&T, and many state humanities councils.
Straight Ahead Pictures, Inc. is a 501-C-3 corporation, established
SAP not only develops its own projects but also contributes to
the work of others. Our staff has worked as writers and researchers
for the National Geographic film division, PBS (The American Experience, Frontline), WNET-TV, WGBH-TV, and many independent
producers. These projects have won awards ranging from Academy
Award nominations to selection by major international film and
Whether finding materials for a museum installation, searching
for images for Nike, writing narration for an educational film
on the Great Depression or a Learning Channel series on the American
West, the company is dedicated to developing creative
projects that make America's deep and little known film and audio
archives accessible and relevant to the general public, media professionals, and scholars.