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Harilyn Rousso

Filmmaker, writer, artist, and activist Harilyn Rousso was born with cerebral palsy and is a spokeswoman for women with disabilities all over the world. She earned an economics degree from Brandeis University before moving to Washington, D.C. to work at the Office of Economic Opportunity. She decided to become a psychotherapist but was refused training because her professors did not believe that a woman with cerebral palsy could have a successful career in psychotherapy. Rousso refused to take no as an answer, went to another training facility and eventually became a licensed psychotherapist.

In the early 1980s, Rousso helped design the Networking Project for Disabled Women and Girls and in 1988 she edited the book Disabled, Female, and Proud. She brought the Networking Project for Disabled Women and Girls mainstream when it became based at the New York City YWCA. Rousso continued to spread her message of equality for women and the disabled through films such as POSITIVE IMAGES: PORTRAITS OF WOMEN WITH DISABILITIES AND DISABLED YET INTACT: STORIES FROM A LIFE IN PROGRESS. Recently, she co-authored Double Jeopardy: Addressing Gender Equity in Special Education and authored Strong Proud Sisters: Girls and Young Women with Disabilities. Rousso has served on the boards of many major organizations such as Ms. Foundation, the Center for Women Policy Studies, and the Sister Fund. In 2000, Rousso received the Jessie Bernard Wise Women Award from various U.S. institutions including the Ms. Foundation and Women’s Policy Center in Washington, D.C. (10/09)

Positive Images
A film by Julie Harrison and Harilyn Rousso, 1989, 58 min., Color

People with disabilities constitute nearly twenty percent of the American population. Sexism and often racism compound discrimination based on disabil...

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