Death of Louise Ravenel
October 18, 2023
It is with great sadness that DRSC shares the news of the death of one of our founders and our first Executive Director, Louise Ravenel. In 1959, after the birth of her son, William, with Down syndrome, Louise became committed to protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities, pushing for the creation of programs for them, lobbying for legislative changes that would improve their lives, and promoting programs for the prevention of disability.
At every level of government, she advocated for the rights of people with disabilities. Until the 1970′s there was no unified legal movement to guarantee people with disabilities the legal and human rights all other Americans enjoy. Parents of children with disabilities had to fight for acceptance in their home communities and change prejudicial attitudes exhibited towards their children. Accessing service delivery systems was difficult in most areas since little appropriate programming existed. Adults with disabilities were often placed in large institutions isolated from their home communities. There was inadequate protection from abuse and neglect.
In 1973, Louise Ravenel and others formed an advocacy program in Charleston. This organization was a first for the state of South Carolina and it served individuals in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties. The program gained momentum and members of this organization anticipated a time when resources would be available to provide advocacy services to individuals with other disabilities. Under the federal Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 1975 (Public Law 94-103), each state was required to have a statewide protection and advocacy system in place by October 1, 1977. At this time Louise Ravenel became the Executive Director of the first designated Protection and Advocacy System in South Carolina and served in this role for 17 years. We are very thankful for all that Louise has accomplished in her life and she will be greatly missed by the disability community in South Carolina.