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Abstract

During the 1970's a social movement arose to address the concerns of people with disabilities. Action groups pressed for reforms in architectural barriers, educational and employment opportunities, deinstitutionalization, and legal protection of civil rights. Although accurate demographic information is lacking, estimates indicate that approximately one in ten Americans has a disability or chronic disease and would be affected by the changes brought about by the disability movement. These people experience serious limitations in major activities such as housework, employment, or education. Yet external restrictions imposed by negative attitudes impose greater handicaps by preventing full social participation of this stigmatized group. The primary purpose of the disability movement has been to combat ttiese environmental and social handicaps through public education and legal advances.

Despite the attention given to disability in general and certain impairments in particular, one category within the disabled population has received little recognition or study: women. Like many reform movements, the disability movement has often directed its energies toward primarily male experiences; spinal cord injury and employment issues have received more publicity than arthritis or chilc-bearing problems. It is the purpose of this special issue to identify the issues and experiences which are particular to disabled women.

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