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This article examines how the employment rights guaranteed by the Americans

with Disabilities Act (ADA) affect the careers of individuals with disabilities. The

article draws on in-depth interviews with sixty adults who provided extended life

story narratives, describing early family and educational experiences and later

experiences with employment. Their detailed accounts offer insights into the

sometimes subtle role rights play in peoples lives and careers. Relatively few

rights violations actually lead to explicit or formal invocations of the law. The

effect of the ADA on careers can be profound but is primarily indirect or

symbolic. Moreover, other factors affect the influence of rights, including the

timing of injury or diagnosis, and personal or social circumstances such as

family relationships, social class, and race. The article analyzes the impact of

these and other factors on the careers of a selected group of men and women

with physical and learning disabilities.