WASHINGTON, DC, December 22, 2004 The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) proudly announces that The Henry B. Betts Award Committee has selected Paul Longmore, Ph.D., an intellectual force and passionate spokesperson for all disabled people's right to dignified supports for independent living and self-determination, to receive the 2004 Henry B. Betts Award. Longmore is an internationally recognized disability rights activist historian, and spokesperson for the rights of people with disabilities. He has committed himself to change the lives of disabled people who want meaningful work but fear loss of public benefits that pay for healthcare, disability equipment and personal assistance. Longmore, who contracted polio at the age of seven, struggled against stereotypes and discrimination based on physical disability and has had a lifelong struggle with disability discrimination. While attending graduate school, his intellectual curiosity inspired his disability rights activism, and his intensive study of American history allowed him to place the disability experience in the context of our nation's earliest struggles for liberty and justice. His forthright disclosure of his owns struggles in pursuing his career confirmed the injustice of public policies that thwart employment for Americans with disabilities.
In the 1980s in collaboration with noted policy expert and fellow polio survivor Dr. Doug Martin, Longmore joined a public campaign to reform Social Security policies that penalized disabled professionals for earning money through education, fellowships and grants. The outcome policy was the Longmore Amendment, which allows disabled authors to count publishing royalties as earned income.
A major founder of the field of disability studies, Longmore also helped to establish and now directs the Institute on Disability Studies at San Francisco State University (SFSU), an interdisciplinary field that studies social, political, economic and cultural aspects of disability and calls for the translation of those insights into public policy. He also helped to establish critical inquiry into disability on campuses across the nation. A Professor of History, Longmore has been working to make SFSU accessible to all people with all disabilities, and to ensure disabled individuals' access to higher education. His efforts have made it possible for students with disabilities to sharpen their minds and heighten their capacity to be productive members of society.
In 2000, Longmore co-directed the first National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute on Disability Studies; the 25 participating scholars have since that time had a major impact on the development of the field. Also that year, he co-convened the International Disability and Sexuality Conference, the first major academic symposium on that subject. Longmore cosponsored the first international Queer Disability Conference in 2002.
Longmore has published three books and dozens of articles, including Why I Burned My Book and Other Essays on Disability and The New Disability History (co-edited with Lauri Umansky). His writings have legitimized disability as a major dimension of humanity in historical research.
The Henry B. Betts Award, which is administered by AAPD, was created by the Prince Charitable Trusts and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in 1989. It is named in honor of Henry B. Betts, M.D., a pioneer in the field of rehabilitation medicine who started his career with the Institute in 1964, making it the base for his career as an advocate for people with physical disabilities and leader in the field of rehabilitation medicine, and who has devoted himself to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.
"As a historian, prolific author and disability activist, Paul Longmore has been a pioneer in the growing field of disability studies, instilling in the disability movement a stronger sense of our community's history and cultural identity," said Andrew Imparato, AAPD President and CEO. "Paul's clear message is helping to deepen America's understanding of the disability experience and inspiring a new generation of disability leaders."
The Henry B. Betts Award will be presented to Professor Longmore by AAPD and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at the annual AAPD Leadership Gala, an awards ceremony and dinner, on March 9, 2005, Capital Hilton, Washington, DC. For ticket information, call 202-457-0046, ext. 24.