An archive honoring the voices and experiences of disabled people

How much do you know about the history of disability?

If the answer is “not a lot,” you’re not alone. The voices and experiences of disabled people are often nowhere to be found in history books and even museums.

But at Buffalo’s Museum of disABILITY History, they take center stage.

The museum’s mission is to advance the understanding, acceptance and independence of people with disabilities. It does so by laying out a history of both pain and triumph.

Only with advances in medicine have the reasons behind congenital and acquired disabilities become clear. Throughout history, however, disabled people have been marginalized. They’ve faced mockery, fear, social isolation, and sometimes incarceration or institutionalization.

The museum tells those people’s stories and illustrates how a burgeoning movement advocated for disability rights. Exhibits deal with everything from adaptive equipment to the almshouses where people were once forced to live. By showing where we’ve been, the museum makes a powerful case for what a more accepting and supportive society could look like.

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