Paul Longmore died in August. I didn’t know him personally but we sometimes worked with the same people. I was very much aware of his presence as a strong advocate for disability rights.
He was an activist who helped recast the paradigm of the problem of disability. His work placed it mainly out in society not in the individual and advocated for change.
Quotes are from an article in the LA Times by Valerie J. Nelson
Early in his career … Unable to use his hands because of a childhood bout with polio, Paul K. Longmore wrote his first book by punching a keyboard with a pen he held in his mouth. It took him 10 years, and when he was done, he burned a copy in front of the Federal Building downtown.
By taking a match to “The Invention of George Washington” in 1988, the scholar brought national attention to a campaign to reform Social Security policies that discourage disabled professionals from working. Some of the most restrictive penalties were soon lifted — including one preventing him from earning royalties on books — in a policy change that became known as the Longmore Amendment.
…”He devoted his life to making this a better and more just world,” Robert A. Corrigan, the [San Francisco State] university’s president, said in a statement. “Legendary, inspirational, pioneering, irreverent … many words are needed to sum up this remarkable man.”
…As a major founder of disability studies, Longmore helped establish it as a field of academic research and teaching….In 1996, he helped start San Francisco State’s Institute for Disability Studies and was its director. Longmore worked to bring the discipline to other college campuses and provided leadership at disability rights rallies across the state and nation.
… last month, Longmore spoke at a San Francisco celebration of the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act and reminded the crowd of a perspective he had long espoused: Disability rights activists had brought about change by redefining what it means to be disabled.
Longmore’s life is a strong example of an individual working in community to effect important social change. His work changed the lives of many, many people for the better.