Disability as a social justice imperative: Historical, theoretical, and practical implications

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Title

Social Justice and Putting Theory Into Practice in Schools and Communities


In: Social Justice and Putting Theory Into Practice in Schools and Communities, 2020.


Educators in the United States have the legal obligation to ensure that students with disabilities are given equitable access to an education. Under the Individuals with Education Act (2004), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (1973), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990), individuals with disabilities cannot be discriminated against based on their disability and must be provided the same educational opportunities as their non-disabled counterparts. While most teacher preparation programs as well as educators in higher education are knowledgeable of these laws, there is a striking absence of learning about the historical implication of segregation, abuse, and maltreatment of individuals with disabilities that led to these laws being enacted. Most teacher preparation programs do not teach future educators about the history regarding disability rights and the social construct of disability. This chapter will present the major theoretical and historical movements in the disability rights movement, as well as the practical implications for educators today.


DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9434-5.ch014