The Construction of Disability among Undergraduate Students in Disability Related Majors
AdvisorSales, Amos P.
Committee ChairSales, Amos P.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe ADA definition of disability reflects an historical shift from defining disability within the individual (the medical model) to constructing disability within the social environment (the socio-political or interactional model). Further, this shift reveals a movement away from paternalistic to empowering rehabilitation policies and service delivery systems. Similarly, academic programs in Rehabilitation are updating their undergraduate curriculum in ways that reflect changes that have taken place in public policy and service delivery related to disability, knowledge emerging from the field of disability studies, and a changing student demographic. Disability related rehabilitation research has not yet fully reflected this shift, and this has resulted in data and knowledge that are of limited utility. It has been well researched that negative attitudes toward individuals with disabilities held by rehabilitation professionals will limit the scope of services generated and provided by professionals and, ultimately, have a detrimental effect on a successful rehabilitation process. Knowledge about the ways that undergraduate students conceptualize disability may illuminate the content and origin of positive and negative attitudes and beliefs.The present study was a phenomenological examination of the framework students employed in conceptualizing, understanding and making meaning of the concept of disability. The study utilized in-depth interviews and students' course assignments in order to answer the question, "How do undergraduate students in disability related majors construct disability?" Data revealed six common themes which were: participants had difficulty defining the category of disability; disability was understood as an individual problem, requiring special accommodations, assistance and services; there was an altruistic desire among participants to challenge stereotypes surrounding disability, alongside limited self-awareness of the application of stereotypes in their own construction of disability; the meaning of disability was a reflection of participants' own identities; Concepts of opportunity, restraint, power and privilege had limited relationship with disability; and, motivation for professional practice was related to a desire to help those who need assistance. Suggestions were made relating to the undergraduate curriculum and future research.
Degree ProgramSpecial Education & Rehabilitation