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 for registration details or you can register at:

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: t

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!

Guy Surdi and Jim Parker


We had the pleasure of talking briefly to Guy Surdi and Jim Parker from the Governor’s Commission on Disability ( Jim is know nationally as a powerhouse in advocacy for people with disability. He has been working on a similar project as the NM Disability Story and is interested in sharing his work and consolidating with the work we will be doing. Guy Surdi has made it clear that he is a fan of this project and as a person that works on the disability waivers and longterm services in the state he believes that it is time for New Mexico to document what has been done in the hopes of continuing to move forward. 

We would like to thank these gentlemen for their willingness to work with us and their enthusiasm!


White Cane Laws











Prior to 1967, if you were physically or visual impaired you had no right to walk down a sidewalk in any United States city. If you were walking on the sidewalk using a white cane, had a service dog, were using a wheelchair or crutches and someone hit and injured you, it was considered your fault and you had no legal right to receive coverage by the driver’s insurance, no right to sue them for damages and they couldn’t be charged with a crime. It was your fault you got hurt because you shouldn’t be out in public in the first place.

In 1967, New Mexico became the first state to take a stand against this blatant civil rights infringement when Governor David Cargo signed the first White Cane Law.

“It is the policy of this state to encourage and enable the blind, the visually handicapped and the otherwise physically disabled to participate fully in the social and economic life of the state and to engage in remunerative employment.” (

This law served as the model for the eventual adoption of white cane laws in each of the 50 states and represents the groundwork for the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The Little Baby


While digging through the very sparse information about the Los Lunas Hospital and Training School–an institution for adults and children with disabilities that was shut down by the Jackson Lawsuit–I ran across a website for the Los Lunas Hospital Cemetery. On the website someone had put pictures of the various headstones and each had its own page and a space for visitors to add pictures and more information. One of the first ones that had additional information was this for a baby girl named Shamarie. Her birthday was almost the same as mine but I was instantly gripped with a sadness that our lives had been very different. Her sister had found this site and had reflected that Shamarie was from rural NM and that her mother had never been allowed to hold her. She was born with Spina Bifida and was taken from her parents immediately after birth and flown to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque. She was later placed at the Los Lunas Hospital where she lived out her two short years. Like so many New Mexicans at that time, her parents were too poor and without any resources to make the trip to Los Lunas to see her. She was buried in a peach dress that was donated by a woman in Los Lunas. Shamarie’s sister reflected that this was the great heartbreak of her mother’s life. It makes me aware of the fact that it has never been a question of whether or not I would get to take my baby home. That is the legacy of the NM disability movement–they insured that “we take our babies home.” That is what this project hopes to document and protect for future mothers.

Our meeting with the ARC of New Mexico

Andrew and Lisa had the pleasure of meeting with Randy Costales and Doris Husted of the ARC of New Mexico. Doris is a former Joseph P. Kennedy Fellow and is currently the Policy Director for the ARC. Randy came to work for the ARC in the guardianship program during the Jackson Lawsuit  ( He now serves the organization as the Executive Director. We look forward to the possibility of working closely with the ARC on this project.