Often in our society when we are asked to identify diversity groups, we usually specify race and ethnicity or perhaps sexual orientation. Rarely do individuals identify people with disabilities as a diverse group within our society. This speaks to the historic marginalization and oppression of this group. For centuries, the people with disabilities have been either ignored or, worse, abused and mistreated. The fact that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was only passed in 1990 is an example of how long it has taken for the public and the government to properly address the needs of this population and the long-standing discrimination they have encountered.

Our society remains able-centric, and ableism is a part of our fabric. Throughout history there are examples of how people with disabilities were considered “less than” and were subsequently euthanized or were victims of eugenics. The society encourages people to make decisions regarding whether a person should be born, stay alive, or procreate largely based on whether a person will contribute to society or will be a drain on its resources. Further, it is a moral and subjective determination—one that is that based on the answer to the question of what is a life worth living?

Consider that if a woman is pregnant after age 35, it is strongly suggested that she get an amniocentesis to identify potential disabilities. Often if the test results come back positive, a doctor would recommend that a woman consider ending the pregnancy. In instances of in vitro fertilization, couples are counseled to only have a minimum number of fertilized eggs transferred because the higher the number of embryos that turn into viable fetuses, the more likely one or more of the children will be born with a disability.

This week, you analyze the marginalization and oppression of people with disabilities as you examine the historical treatment of this group. Then you analyze the impact of the social construction of disability in the Parker family case study. You will also analyze the role of the social worker in working with clients with disabilities and apply social work skills to this case study.

Post an explanation of why our society has marginalized those with varying abilities historically. Then, explain the role of social workers in supporting clients with varying abilities (not limited to physical and mental) while recognizing and honoring those clients’ other identity characteristics. Use specific examples from the case study in your explanation.

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