Have you ever heard the name Richard Pimentel? I hadn't until I watched a movie called "Music Within" last week. It's an amazing and true story of a man who almost single-handedly pushed for the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. As a young man, Pimentel wanted to make something of himself despite a horrific childhood. He had a gift for public speaking and debate, but ended up in VietNam and came back with tinnitus so bad (from an explosion) that he couldn't hear.He found it almost impossible to go to school or find a job. He met a man, Art Honeyman, with severe cerebral palsy who was smart and making his way through a world that treated him cruely because of his disability. There's a scene in the movie where they ask them to leave a restaurant because Art was disgusting to the other customers. They refused to leave and were arrested under the "Ugly Law, a statute that prohibited public appearances of people who were unsightly. I looked at my husband and said - that was only 30 years ago, but then the movie reminded me that the ADA was not signed into law until 1990! Before that time people with disabilities could be asked to leave public places or not even have a way into them, they could be denied jobs, be discriminated against in any way! Unbelievable isn't it?
Richard Pimentel wrote "Tilting at Windmills" a disability training program designed for managers and supervisors to work with people with disabilities in 1981.
"Music Within" is a good movie and a great story of one man's success and ability to make a positive change in the world.