This year marks United Spinal’s 70th Anniversary. What began in 1946 as a small, determined group of World War II veterans advocating for greater civil rights and independence in New York City has grown into the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of people living with spinal cord injuries and disorders across the country.
Back then we were just a few dedicated individuals fighting for accessible housing and public buildings. Who could have imagined 70 years later, we would be advising designers and architects nationwide and crafting accessible building codes and regulations at all levels of government?
Where our founders faced widespread discrimination, United Spinal now successfully advocates to expand civil rights and constitutional protections. From writing parts of the Americans with Disabilities Act to improving wheelchair access in New York City and Philadelphia bus and subway systems, we’ve fought tirelessly to help our members realize a full, productive and rewarding life.
Where we once struggled to educate the public about the needs and concerns of people with disabilities, today we are a leading voice for change — raising awareness across the country and around the world with our educational publications such as Disability Etiquette and our award-winning wheelchair lifestyle magazine New Mobility.
All those years ago it was a challenge simply to understand the variety of issues facing people living with spinal cord injuries and disorders, not to mention finding effective solutions. Today, working alongside community groups, rehab facilities, nonprofits, corporations, and our committed chapters, we are able to make incredible strides to improve the lives of those we serve — engaging thousands of individuals with disabilities and their loved ones annually, offering hope and support when it’s needed the most.
Although times have changed, United Spinal adheres to our founding principle — to provide programs and services that enhance the lives of our members. Today, we celebrate our roots and the hard work of our predecessors, with the hope to continue their tradition of service for years to come.