GRAPHIC: Visionary Voices logo
Institute on Disabilities at Temple University
Interviews    Archives    Performance    ABOUT    DONATE       

about the visionary voices project

Pennsylvania has played an important and historically significant role in the creation of public policy (both through legislation and litigation) that has changed the way people with intellectual disabilities live in our community. From the right to education, to the closing of institutions and the movement toward self-determination, Pennsylvanians with disabilities, family members, and advocates have paved the way for national policies that have led to widespread reform.

There is much to be learned from a generation of advocates and self-advocates who risked much to ensure the safety and freedom of people with disabilities. If their memories and stories are not preserved, they will disappear forever. To that end, the Visionary Voices | Leaders Lessons Legacy project of the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University strives to collect the stories of those who played a part, or were first hand witness, to the events that changed the lives of people with intellectual disabilities in Pennsylvania. These first-person accounts of our history are a vital resource for students, teachers, scholars, people with disabilities, families, policymakers and members of the media. The project is in two parts: video interviews and collected papers of attorney and advocate Dennis Haggerty.

Interviews with People with Intellectual Disabilities, Family Members and Advocates

In its initial phase, the Visionary Voices | Leaders Lessons Legacy website will feature approximately 30 videotaped interviews recorded over a 12-month period. These first interviews will focus on leaders in Pennsylvania's Intellectual Disability Movement; as this group ages, we run the risk of forever losing the stories that shaped the way supports and services are provided to people with disabilities in Pennsylvania and around the country.

Interviews will focus on four areas: the right to education, deinstitutionalization, self-determination, and community supports. As the project continues beyond the 12-month period, interviews will be added to each category. Visionary Voices has also been commissioned by the Philadelphia Office of DisAbility Services to collect a series of interviews with leaders in Philadelphia's Intellectual Disability Community.

Learn more about the interview process, or to see "behind the scenes" photos of the interviews in progress.


The Visionary Voices | Leaders Lessons Legacy will collect and make available the papers of individuals significant to the Intellectual Disability Movement in Pennsylvania.

The Haggerty Papers

PHOTO: Dennis Haggerty speaks at a podium, about his gift of his personal papersPHOTO: Mr. Haggerty addresses audience gathered to acknowledge his gift of his personal papers in 2008.

In 2008, Dennis Haggerty, a Philadelphia-based attorney, respected disability rights advocate, and parent of a child with an intellectual disability donated his personal papers to the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University. Mr. Haggerty's personal and professional correspondence, newspaper clippings, photos, and manuscripts document a change in the political and social trends that affected the quality of life for Pennsylvanians with disabilities (and for the disability community nationally). Dating back to 1970, The Haggerty Papers tell the story of a movement that freed people with disabilities from institutions, fought for equal access to education (first in special education classes, then in regular classrooms), and ultimately allowed people with disabilities to take their rightful place in the community.

The Visionary Voices project has collaborated with archivists, librarians, historians, and technicians to preserve the Haggerty Papers and to create its finding aid. The project's long-term goal is to digitize the Haggerty Papers, making selections accessible to users worldwide.

Sharing Our Collective History

A primary goal of the Visionary Voices | Leaders Lessons Legacy project will preserve the stories of Pennsylvanians with Intellectual Disabilities, allowing universal access to this important part of our collective history. Interviews and select documents from The Haggerty Papers will be available on DVD.

Share this page:
Follow us:
GRAPHIC: visit our blog    GRAPHIC: Like us on Facebook.      GRAPHIC: Follow us on Twitter.