Date of Award


Degree Type



Exercise Science

Director of Thesis

Dr. Linda J Hazlett

First Reader

Laura Kissel

Second Reader

Laura Kissel


The purpose of this thesis is to look at the different facets that make up disability in the United States, with a specific focus on the children with disabilities. These facets include related legislation, the education system, activism, services, and what it means to care for a child with disabilities. Throughout the research process, each of these facets were analyzed to include the most significant events for the section, an overview of each section to provide insight and a small amount of background and history for someone relatively unfamiliar with the history of disability in the United States. Beyond research of documents and primary sources, stories and photographs of children with disabilities and their parents are included throughout the paper, ideally to provide insight into the day-to-day challenges faced by the families, and how they have become educated themselves to become activists for the cause. The paper concludes with my own personal reflections and the question of how the writer, the reader, and the general public are to move forward towards equalizing opportunity for the millions of children in the United States with various disabilities. As with any cause, to discontinue the push forward will only lead us a reversal of the work that has been done in the past decades, and to stop speaking and writing about the movement will lead to forgotten prejudices and disservices. The conversation must remain open and active if we are to work alongside these children for their ultimate betterment and for the betterment of those yet to come.

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© 2017, Frances Mason Ramsay