ADAPT logo  
New York City ADAPT
fighting to FREE OUR PEOPLE
from nursing homes and other institutions

ADAPT logo

What is ADAPT?



What is ADAPT
National ADAPT
Community Choice Act
Press Releases
Reports & Photos
Contact us

ADAPT is a grassroots organization of people with disabilities. It has a long history of organizing and of using non-violent direct action tactics very effectively. ADAPT started in Denver, Colorado, as "American Disabled for Accessible Public Transit" in 1983. After fighting the battle in Denver, ADAPT worked to make the issue of access to transportation a national one.  For seven years ADAPT blocked buses in cities across the United States to demonstrate the need for accessible transportation. Many went to jail for the right to ride.

In the late 80's ADAPT played a major role in achieving passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Once access had begun to be guaranteed by the ADA, ADAPT shifted its focus to the need for attendant services. After July 1990, ADAPT came to stand for "American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today." Now the fight was to get people out of institutions.  ADAPT's battle cry became "Free Our People!"  ADAPT's logo is an adaptation of the wheelchair access symbol, with arms raised breaking its chains.

Today ADAPT just stands for ADAPT. It is no longer considered an acronym.

ADAPT has no president, no board of directors, no membership list. There are recognized national leaders and state and local leaders, or "organizers" as they prefer to be called.

There are ADAPT groups in cities throughout the nation. In places where there is no other strong disability rights organization, local ADAPT groups, while keeping their focus on freeing people from institutions, will take on any disability issue, generally fighting for access and against discrimination.

All ADAPT organizers are in constant contact and they exchange information and discuss issues through periodic conference calls, and through e-mail lists.  ADAPT organizers get together at strategy meetings, where they talk, argue, vote, make decisions and plan future actions.

ADAPT is able to mobilize 500-600 people for an action and up to 3000-4000 people for a one day event such as a march or rally. There are two ADAPT actions every year, one in the spring and one in the fall. Actions are four days long, though the first day usually is a day of meetings, workshops and training of new people. An incredible amount of planning goes into an ADAPT action. Civil disobedience is always an important part of the action and is used most effectively. There are usually arrests at ADAPT actions. Anywhere from 100 to 200 people may be arrested.

Because ADAPT actions are well covered by the media, when people hear the name ADAPT they immediately think of civil disobedience and arrests. But ADAPT does a lot more than that. Most of the work is done between actions.  ADAPT is constantly working with other national disability organizations, meeting with governmental agencies and with elected officials, organizing letter-writing and telephone campaigns,  initiating lawsuits and filing amici briefs.

The fight to "free our people" has proved to be much tougher than the earlier fight for accessible transportation.  ADAPT still has not succeeded in eradicating the bias in the long-term care system and the prejudice in people's minds that causes many disabled people to be institutionalized, sometimes for life, when they could be getting the services they need in their own homes and live in freedom, usually at a much lower cost to the state.

Most all ADAPT activists have disabilities and many are "freed" people who spent long years incarcerated for the crime of having a disability. They speak from experience when they chant "I'd rather go to jail than die in a nursing home!"

Though the struggle is not over, many battles have been won by ADAPT through the years and today we are much closer than ever to achieving the goal of freeing our people from institutions.


Website by Nadina LaSpina