Northwest Center History

Since 1965, Northwest Center has led the charge for disability inclusion

Like so many revolutions, it started with injustice. Four Seattle moms just wanted their children with disabilities to learn, but in the early 1960s, kids like theirs were barred from schools. So Janet Taggart, Katie Dolan, Cecile Lindquist, and Evelyn Chapman joined other parents to start “basement schools” in rec rooms and cafeterias at local churches and synagogues.

In 1965, those schools became Northwest Center. In 1971, our founders wrote and passed a law guaranteeing public education to kids with disabilities in Washington state. And in 1975, they helped write and pass the U.S. law now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Explore how Northwest Center’s founders started an inclusion revolution, a legacy that continues to inspire our work for disability inclusion and anti-ableism today.

Meet Our Founders

Four Seattle moms. An entire world of change.

Watch “Together They Were Stronger,” a short film by Thriving Communities on how Northwest Center’s founders wrote and passed the first disability inclusion laws in the U.S.

Everett Herald: How Moms in a VW Van Achieved a Civil Rights Milestone in ’71

Hear from two of the authors of House Bill 90, “Education for All,” on what it took to write and pass milestone legislation.

It Took Citizens Who Cared

Read how Northwest Center passed the first laws in the United States for disability education.

50 Years after Education for All, What’s Next for Inclusive Education?

Explore the legacy of Washington House Bill 90, “Education for All,” on its 50th anniversary in 2021.

Seattle Times: Build on Legacy of Moms Who Opened Schools to Disabled Students

A call to action from Gene Boes, President and CEO of Northwest Center, and Stacy Dym, Executive Director of The Arc of Washington State.