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Issue Two: Introduction

By Mariette Bates

Editor-in-Chief, the Journal of Teaching Disability Studies

Distinguished Lecturer and Academic Director, Disability Studies Program
CUNY School of Professional Studies

Our Call for Papers for this second issue of JTDS welcomed submissions focusing on disability studies in education, and we received a number of submissions responsive to our call for papers. In keeping with the broad approach we decided to take with JTDS, this issue’s seven articles reflect a variety of perspectives and disciplines.  Several articles addressed teacher education, while others focused on disability on college campuses and provided critique of current practices and structures that continue to create barriers to access.

Authors Feldner, Lent and Lee describe the effect of introducing disability studies concepts of inequity and ableism into the curriculum of students studying to be physical therapists. They explore the challenges of finding an entry point in the curriculum for these concepts, discuss several other considerations and provide responses of students to the ideas and perspectives they encountered.

Priya Lalvani addresses how language, structures and educational practices produce ableism on campus.  She discusses the practice of locating access for students with disabilities in disability service offices, thus avoiding issues of broader access and examination of structures and policies that continue to limit full inclusion and participation of disabled college students.  Lalvani illustrates how curricula in academic disciplines of psychology, social work, child development, and others reinforce the pathologizing of disability.  Lalvani includes a more extensive discussion of how teacher education – both general education and preparation of special education teachers- is complicit in reinforcing ableism and constructs conceptual barriers to changing thinking about students with disabilities in K-12 classrooms.

Bradley Toland discusses how he incorporates Kim Nielsen’s biography of Helen Keller in his teaching of United States history. Toland’s submission describes his use of the biography as a tool for students to learn more broadly about the history of the Twentieth Century, disability and activism.   While acknowledging the challenges of using biography as a lens to focus on the broader issues of disability in history, Toland describes how reading about the life of Helen Keller engages students and introduces them to the complexity of the life of a disabled woman too often seen as one-dimensional.

Lisa Boskovich and David Hernández-Saca also write about their own phenomenological journey as developing educators using a Disability Studies in Education perspective.  They describe their use of their own poetry in teaching special education and pre-service education courses as an entry point to reflect on their own ‘learning dis/Ability diagnosis.’  They reflect on the process of sharing their own phenomenological experiences as adults with learning disabilities impacts their teaching.  The use of poetry in examining intersectionality, power and identity and reflecting on their experiences as children in the educational system with LD labels.  Data was collected from 109 students and the themes that emerged are presented and analyzed.

Disability on campuses is the subject of Andrew Lucchesi’s “Investigating Cultural Locations of Disability in American Colleges and Universities: Campus Curriculum, Culture.”  Lucchesi examines the relationship between Disability Studies and three distinct moments on college campuses that have advanced the field and changed our understanding of disability on campus.  Lucchesi posits that changes resulted from student activism on campus as documented in disability history; curricular critique and its role in advancing Disability Studies on campuses, and the emergence of Disability Rhetoric from composition-rhetoric and the advancement of more general critique of the values and ideologies of higher education as evidenced by its practices.

In “Teaching ‘Subversively Inclusive’ College Courses on Disability Identity, History, and Activism,” Jessica Bacon and Ashley Taylor describe how they revised a traditional teacher preparation course to include traditional students along with students with intellectual and developmental disability.  The traditional course was revised to include self-advocacy and disability rights, thus engaging traditional students to learn along with students they will be teaching in inclusive classes. The course was taught at two different colleges, and the authors describe their process of thinking through the development of the course, discuss results, and provide advice for others who might have an interest in teaching similar courses.

“Universal Design for Learning: A Basis in Phaneroscopy?” examines what Stefan Honisch  asserts to be the ‘difficult relationship between Disability Studies and Universal Design for Learning.’  Using the lens of Charles Peirce’s term “phaneroscopy’, he argues that actual universal design is in actuality not possible.  Honisch discusses ‘places to start’ and ‘places to continue’ efforts toward universal design for learning. He posits that the process of thinking about disability accommodations and intention toward universal design put forth by Disability Studies scholars may tend to reinforce the practice of actually placing disability as separate.

We are grateful to the authors who submitted for this issue, and our peer reviewers, who helped authors with their comments on submissions in the middle of the worst of the pandemic.  Thanks are due to our intrepid copy editor, Dawn Martin, for her assistance with this issue.

We’ll be issuing a new call for papers for our third issue shortly and look forward to your submissions!

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