NM Disability Story Staff Travels to Hungary


(Albuquerque)- On Saturday, August 26, 2017, Lisa Rossignol, MA, Albuquerque native and UNM graduate, traveled to the country of Hungary on a 14-day junket to train policy makers, providers, families, and individuals with disabilities about designing public policy and payment models that improve the lives of children with disabilities.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, Office of Citizen Exchanges, Professional Fellow Division, Rossignol was selected for her ten years as a disability policy historian and advocate. She maintains the public information website: http://www.nmdisabilitystory.org and provides disability consultation across the country.

“It is such an honor to be able to meet with this group of committed parents and professionals who believe that children with disabilities should have the right to go to school and live in the community,” Rossignol says. “This is an emerging democracy, in a very conservative region, but there is excitement about improving public policy for kids who have traditionally been left behind.”

In April 2017, Rossignol hosted a professional fellow, Eszter Dancsa from Hungary for four weeks. Dancsa, who works for a parent support organization in Budapest, was stunned by the sheer size of the state of New Mexico (nearly four times the size of Hungary with only a quarter of the population) and the complexity of disability policy—school, healthcare, transition, adult services, etc. She and Rossignol visited the Navajo Nation, and each of the four corner areas to explore the way disability policy has unfolded in each region. Rossignol and Dancsa, along with members of the U.S. State Department, will travel around the country of Hungary to provide training to families and providers and to meet with politicians and ambassadors. Rossignol hopes to build an internet based learning collaborative by using the Project ECHO platform to support future policy development between the United States and Hungary.


Town Hall Tomorrow!

This is a reminder that all the great minds in the New Mexico disability movement will be at the Southwest Conference on Disability tomorrow, October 8, at 11:30 pm in the Potter Room at Hotel Albuquerque. Please join us to construct a timeline of various disability events! You can view the flyer by clicking:  Townhall NM Disability Flyer

What we learned at the National Museum of American History

Katherine Ott, PhD, National Museum of American History

Katherine Ott, PhD, National Museum of American History

We had the pleasure of taking a tour with Katherine Ott, Phd, at the National Museum of American History this week. Although the collection did not contain much directly linked to New Mexico, it was a very interesting and helpful tour.  We did learn that the bronze, scaled sculpture replicating the polio virus was cast at the foundry in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Bronze, scaled replica of polio

Another thing we learned was that we were probably not correct when we reported earlier that New Mexico signed the very first White Cane Law in the country. It turns out that White Cane Laws date back to the 20’s and 30’s. I am not sure where our source got their information from but we are committed to deepening our research to find the truth. The trickiest part about collection history through oral histories is that facts are often experiential and require triangulation to find the closest to accurate information. In the digital age, and the rush to get new information out and keep readers engaged, sometimes we will provide inaccurate-though hopefully never dangerously inaccurate-information! Our commitment is to correct information as soon as we are able. Thank you for your patience and support!

Villa Solano

Roswell, New Mexico had a residential institution for adults Developmental Disabilities/Intellectual Disabilities from 1973-1976 called Villa Solano. Situated in the middle of a military airstrip, Villa Solano was a missile storage facility prior to receiving residents. It was fraught with staffing shortages and alleged abuse from the very start and was consequently closed and all residents moved into community based programs. 

Villa Solano situated in an air field.

Villa Solano situated in an air field.

September 1986



In September 1986, a lawsuit was filed against the Los Lunas Hospital and Training School from a building where two residents were murdered and one was raped. The lawsuit resulted in a three-day long, closed door trial that lead Judge Tibo Chavez to rule that the institution had not provided adequate safety for the residence. Judge Chavez, in his decision, ruled that outside medical examiners would have to see the residents to examine them for evidence of abuse and neglect. The judge did not allow any of the testimony to become public so there is no public record of the information shared by witnesses. The state appealed the decision and did not comply with the recommendations. I have been unable to locate anything that shows Judge Chavez’s orders were ever enforced. The institution closed in the mid 1990’s.

Town Hall Meeting October 8, 2014

I know it has been quite some time since we have posted but we are back and ready to share an exciting opportunity with you! We will be hosting a Town Hall Meeting on October 8, 2014 at the Southwest Disability Conference located at Hotel Albuquerque. Our meeting will occur between 11:30 am- 12:30 pm. We will have a facilitated activity to determine what events have occurred in New Mexico that need to be documented and who are the people that should be interviewed. We will be working to construct a disability timeline and to start and sketch out the New Mexico Disability Story. If you are interest in attending this event, please email Lisa Rossignol at lnrossignol@gmail.com for registration details or you can register at: http://cdd.unm.edu/swconf/registration.html

Help us make this a fun and informative event! Click here to view flyer: Townhall NM Disability Flyer

We have been busy!

We are so sorry that we have taken a break from keeping you up to date on our activities. We have some big news to share. First, The Arc of New Mexico has agreed to partner with The New Mexico Disability Story! This will be a great venture for both parties.

We also had the chance to meet up with the Director for the Futures of Disability Studies center at Columbia, Rachel Adams. She is a powerful advocate, parent, and a talented author. We look forward to corresponding with her as we begin to write the documentary book. We were unable to connect with Oral Historian, Nicki Berger but are looking forward to talking with her soon. She completed her Master’s in Oral History at Columbia and her thesis was involved oral histories from adults with Down Syndrome. We hope to involve her in the collection of the oral histories for this project.We had the pleasure of seeing the modern, national disability movement at the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) in NYC:

accessibility icon project

accessibility icon project


Finally, we met up with Joan Leon in Washington, DC who was a member of the legendary Berkley Center for Independent Living. She worked closely with Ed Roberts and set the stage for some of the great successes of the 1960’s and 1970’s for disability rights. She directed us to a similar project that was done for the Berkley movement: thttp://bancroft.berkeley.edu/collections/drilm/collection/items/leon.html

It is great to see how other states and cities have approached the challenge of collecting and documenting their disability movements. It gives us so many ideas about what we would like to accomplish.

Later this week: Our meeting with Jim Parker!