Speaking up and speaking out: Engaging women literacy learners with disabilities in participatory action research
AdvisorAnders, Patricia L.
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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.
AbstractAdult basic and literacy education (ABLE) is a unique social and educational site, a borderland where marginalized youth and adults can be found. This project sought the voices and stories of women literacy learners with disabilities. The project had a dual purpose of creating practical products and conducting research. The project sought to create knowledge for program improvement and produce two products, a list of recommendations to the field and a brochure of advice to new women literacy learners (both included). The research explored the social categories of gender, literacy, and disability to contextualize existing theories with the lived experiences of low-income women with disabilities. The project was grounded in critical and feminist standpoint epistemologies that were actualized through a dialogic, participatory action research design. The data collection and management technique of the Unfolding Matrix (Padilla, 1993) was adapted to an Unfolding Venn diagram with three interlocking circles labeled Women, Literacy, and Disability. Fifteen women participated in the year-long series of monthly focus dialogues. The participants ranged in age from 20 to over 60 years old, represented a range of disability and impairment experiences, various lengths of involvement in the adult education program, and a range of ethnicities and geographic areas of childhood. The structure of the dissertation follows the design of dialogic research conducted with the technique of the adapted Unfolding Matrix. Three levels of data were analyzed: contributions to the diagram, four key discussions, and focus dialogue transcripts. Specific findings are presented as chapters in Part II: Finding Ourselves in Contradictions, Part III: Hinged Themes and Dreams, and Part IV: The Way Forward. Findings indicate the critical need for adult education and literacy programs to recognize women's unique learning needs and to engage women in dialogue so that those needs can be discovered and articulated. Access to literacy and the power of literacy includes instruction and support sensitive to individual needs. Disability issues need to be openly addressed with an attitude of critique and advocacy that can empower learners and the field to move forward on eligibility and service structures.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Language, Reading and Culture