The Women of Ellensburg: Issues of Women in Washington State
The Special Problems of Women
Physically disabled women have needs that are special and different than those faced by the remainder of the disabled population. The sexuality of disabled women, for example, is linked with myths, assumptions, and stereotypes. Many health care professionals are under-informed about which forms of birth control are contraindicated for certain types of disabilities. Architectural barriers to family planning clinics and other health care facilities and inadequate design of mass transit vehicles aggravate these problems.
Stereotypes about the abilities of disabled women are especially hard to overcome when they seek employment. According to one disabled woman who is a rehabilitation specialist, most counselors in the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation are males who have traditional concepts of work roles. Thus, they tend to see women in wheelchairs as potential typists rather than potential lab technicians. Another difficulty is that many disabilities reduce stamina, which makes it difficult for women with these problems to work full-time and raise families.
Some Solutions to Problems of the Disabled
Conservative women and feminists alike can support solutions to these problems. Laws already in effect regarding accessibility to health care facilities should be enforced. Health professionals must be educated to the needs of disabled women. Options for part-time work for disabled women must be increased. Feminists should especially hear the need for inclusion of disabled women in affirmative action recruitment efforts.