Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Womens Studies

Major Professor

Diane Price Herndl, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sara Green, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michelle Hughes Miller, Ph.D.


disability, gender, experiences, autonomy, microaggressions, community


Amidst our ableist social world, there are people with disabilities who are living the lives they want to be living and are, so-to-speak, “doing their own thing.” This project focuses on what a few young adult women attribute as having helped them get to where they are today. There were two overarching open-ended research questions guided this project: (1) what opportunities and experiences have influenced the four women with physical and mobility disabilities in terms of getting to where they are today? And (2) how have these opportunities and experiences helped and/or challenged them along their journeys? The study analyzes responses from semistructured interviews with four young women with physical disabilities. Participants’ responses suggest that growing up in supportive environments (family, friends, other people with disabilities) that foster a sense of disability pride helped participants adopt similar perspectives on disability. I argue that participants learned to understand disability as a valued form of social diversity in large part from their parents and from experiences that allowed them to interact with other young people with disabilities. Additionally, strategic positivity and persistence are two ways that help participants cope with the day-to-day ableism and anti-disability microaggressions that they experience.