The Consumer Movement
Consumerism, as it relates to persons with disabilities, has its roots in the independent-living movement of the 1970s and has played an important part in VAD’s history.
Prior to the 1970s, supports for persons with disabilities were most often provided by publicly funded organizations led by individuals who had the well-intended but often misguided aim of “helping” us by creating programs and services they felt we required.
In our experience, consumer involvement was needed to ensure the programs and services we accessed didn’t fall short of their intended goals. As persons with disabilities, we were the “consumers” of the services being provided, and we strongly believed that we needed to be involved in the choices that were being made for us. Hence the terms consumers and the consumer movement came to have special and significant meaning for our community.
In 1998, when VAD developed its mission statement, we acknowledged our connection to the consumer movement. Today, the consumer movement philosophy continues to inform and direct all aspects of our work.