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Roadmaps & Rampways

The 34 young people who tell their stories in the new book, Roadmaps & Rampways, are either blind or deaf, or they may get around in wheelchairs or have learning disabilities. But their disabilities do not define them, and have not stopped them from taking jobs as biologists, computer scientists, mechanical engineers, and aerospace scientists.

Roadmaps and Rampways, released last month by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), chronicles 25 years of a remarkable era, with dramatic changes in the law, in attitudes, and in "assistive" technology that are transforming the lives of people with disabilities in the United States. The young people featured in the book all participated in a AAAS internship program known as ENTRY POINT!, which has served as a bridge into jobs in engineering and sciences in both the public and private sectors since 1996. Of the 350 students placed in ENTRY POINT! internships, 92 percent are either employed fulltime, or have gone on to graduate school in a technical field. Their stories are in marked contrast to the general population of people with disabilities, among whom only 25 percent have fulltime jobs.

"We began to wonder at our students' early lives -- at their talent, their skills, and their academic achievement," says Virginia Stern, the program's director and co-author of the book. "We wanted to know what had made them achieve, who their mentors were and what their parents did to avoid the pitfalls. We also wanted to know what impact the laws had had on their lives."

Most of the students had been born after the signing of the historic Education for All Handicapped Children Act in December 1975. But the revolutionary passage in July 1990 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) opened up additional opportunities in transportation, public facilities, telecommunications, and, of course, employment.

The individuals profiled in Roadmaps and Rampways "made it over the wall,
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Contact: Monica Amarelo
mamarelo@aaas.org
202-326-6431
American Association for the Advancement of Science
13-Mar-2002


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