Disabled In Action (DIA) is the name of a civil rights group dedicated to improving the legal, social and economic condition of people with disabilities so that they may achieve complete integration into society. A non-profit, tax-exempt organization, DIA began in the early 1970's as one of many new and different liberation movements. Black and Native American people were fighting for more freedom; so were poor people, Third World People of all nationalities, Women, Gays, and Lesbians.
This was the beginning of a militant disability rights movement. Up to this time, it had been unheard of, and some thought it frankly ridiculous. But those who had been locked out by both physical and attitudinal barriers would take it no longer. For instance, one of their first acts was to picket the Jerry Lewis telethon where year after year his program sensationalized the situation of disabled people by perpetuating a freakshow image of people with muscular dystrophy.
At DIA, Christmas parties in the late 1970's, Sam Anderson, Sid Emerman, Michael Imperiale, Karen Luxton and others were playing music together and thought it would be a great idea to share their music not only to encourage people within the disabled community but also to inform those outside it. And so The Disabled In Action Singers was formed. Soon this singing group became a prime tool to spread the message of disabled liberation as well as to raise needed funds. They sang in schools and hospitals, at rallies and parties and then began doing concerts, including performing at the Great Hudson River Revival (Clearwater Festival) and later joining Pete Seeger's Coalition of Choruses.
Over the years, The DIA Singers have continued to do what they do best: collecting, writing and singing songs. Like other singing groups with a message, they sing songs of peace, songs of love, songs of empowerment and liberation. What makes The DIA Singers special is that they sing from the point of view of people living with disabilites who have experienced the attitudes which label them as
The world's for all people; we all must belong