Case Study: MIGHT in Austin, TX
While many disability advocacy organizations operated on a national or state scale, there were local groups working to enact change, as well. One of the most prominent disability advocacy groups in Texas during the late twentieth-century was Austin’s Mobility Impaired Grappling Hurtles Together, or MIGHT. MIGHT was founded in 1971 on the University of Texas at Austin campus by Agnes and Forest Edwards. The group had its first meeting in 1973 with president, Dennis Cole, with the goal of improving University accessibility for individuals with physical disabilities. After the passage of section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, the University strove to decrease architectural barriers by constructing ramps and creating ‘mobility guides.’ These guides included maps of UT campus, with ramp locations, accessible restroom access, and buildings on campus that were not accessible for people with mobility impairments.
As MIGHT expanded, members began tackling accessibility issues within the city of Austin. Between 1971 and the late 1990s, MIGHT accomplished the following:
- Saved State Library from funding cuts for the blind and physically disabled by fundraising.
- Implemented the Architectural Barrier Chairman to send letters to shopping centers without ramps. These efforts were successful.
- Enacted an adaptable recreation project.
- Led efforts to create accessible public transportation in Austin, including a lawsuit against the city.
- Partnered with Congressman Lloyd Dogget, who sponsored the Architectural Barrier Bill.
- Created the MIGHT Information and Referral Office to provide resources to people with disabilities in Austin.
In addition to mobility guides for the University of Texas at Austin campus, MIGHT also created guides for the city of Austin. Members were consistently involved in state and federal legislation committees, where they advocated for the rights of people with disabilities.
Like previous disability advocacy groups, MIGHT published a regular newsletter. Issues were initially targeted towards University students and provided campus resources for those with disabilities. Resources included financial, scholastic, and mental health support, various support groups on campus, accessible campus events, campus news, and personal stories from students at UT Austin. MIGHT held regular meetings on campus, creating a space where students fostered community, and worked together to make the UT Campus an inclusive space for all.