Today in history: A step forward for disability rights movement

On this date in 1990, exactly 25 years ago, a graphic designer named Dan Wilkins founded a firm called The Nth Degree. He brings style and quality to visuals of the Disability Rights Movement. Born in Battle Creek, Mich., in 1957, Wilkins was injured in an automobile accident in his early 20s, spent nine months at the University of Michigan Hospital, then settled down in Ohio. In 1988 he received his BA in psychology from Lourdes College and worked for three years at the Ability Center of Greater Toledo. He left there to start The Nth Degree.

A disability culture has been evolving for a long time, and the world owes it a debt of gratitude. We are reminded that we are all “differently abled” or in some cases “temporarily” abled. Adaptations achieved by the disability movement have greatly benefited the larger society by making life easier and more inclusive of all, and allowing people with disabilities to be more employable and productive.

The Nth Degree is about turning light bulbs on, helping everyone to recognize that there is no such thing as Us and Them, just one big Us. Together we can increase awareness and understanding, celebrate our individuality and differences, and search for common ground. The Nth Degree catalog of images and products focuses on our shared truths, interests, histories, goals and fears, all with dignity, humor and respect.

Sometimes a touch of laughter can level walls, open minds, and assuage fear. We gain insight into our cultural “norms” and expectations that we may never have thought about before. Wilkins likes to quote Ram Dass: “We’re all just walking each other home.”

Adapted from


Special to People’s World
Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.