For the next several months, NEW MOBILITY will be celebrating 25 years of journalism by and for active wheelchair users. Join us for a look back at each period of the magazine’s history, starting with our first issues circa the passage of the ADA. Each month we’ll move down the timeline, sharing key moments in disability rights and lifestyle from almost 250 issues of NM.
1989-1992: The Seminal Years
In the mid-1980s, Sam Maddox, a writer and journalism instructor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, met a few wheelers whose adaptive lifestyle impressed him. Maddox recognized the need for a resource guide for SCI survivors, which became SPINAL NETWORK. A quarterly spinoff — SPINAL NETWORK EXTRA — followed in 1989. Maddox hired filmmaker/author Barry Corbet to be SNE’s full-time editor in 1991, and the following year SNE renamed itself NEW MOBILITY, a nod to Corbet’s dynamic wheelchair lifestyle that exemplifed the need for change sweeping the nation. Jean Dobbs, NM’s present editorial director, joined the staff that same year. “Things were changing every day,” says Dobbs. “People were inventing products left and right, organizing new sports, then comes the ADA. There was all this righteous anger, but also this tremendous sense of optimism and possibility. I think we captured that in the magazine.”