Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Special Education

Major Professor

Dr. Ann Cranston-Gingras.


Physical impairment, Assistive technology, Life history, Marginalized individuals


Individuals with physical impairments have been marginalized and discriminated against since the social identification of these individuals occurred as a sub-group within society. While much has been done to resolve prejudice against individuals with physical impairments, more needs to be done to decrease, or at least deter, discrimination and prejudice against individuals who have been marginalized. The purpose of this study is to give four individuals with physical impairments the opportunity to tell their stories. Through the telling of these stories, I believe others can identify with these individuals, and thereby, help decrease discrimination against individuals with physical impairments.Life history has been shown to be an effective method to study individuals with impairments. In order to facilitate understanding of what it is like to be an individual with a physical impairment, four individuals with physical impairments shared their life histories.

Research questions include: How do these individuals with physical impairments understand and give meaning to their lived experiences? and How do participants in this study who have congenital disabilities differ from those who have acquired disabilities in the ways they understand and give meaning to their lives? The research questions and parameters of interest are intended to develop and share what it is like to be an individual with a physical impairment. The researcher has known each of the participants for at least ten years. The participants include a 33 year old male with a congenital disability who is white, a 32 year old female who acquired a disability 12 years ago and who is African American, and a married couple who are 62 and 63 years old, one with a congenital disability, the other acquired a disability when she was 14 years old.