Disability and difference in higher education : case of accommodation at the University of Lethbridge

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Spiric, Vanja
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Sociology
Building on scholarship in Disability Studies and Deaf Studies, this research explores the discourse of disability and deafness-related accommodations at the University of Lethbridge, by examining the university’s policies, website content, and archival material. In order to examine how disability and deafness are spoken of and constructed at this institution, this study employs Foucauldian theorizing on discourse. This research shows that accommodation-related policy embraces the view that disability is an individual problem, placed in the domain of the student’s personal responsibility. Furthermore, the analysis of the university’s documents indicates that, both historically and at present, a medical understanding of disability is the dominant but not the only understanding employed in the institutional design of accommodation-related practices. Finally, the policy and accompanying documents are formulated in ways that place the ‘normal,’ able-bodied student at the centre, thus representing disabled students and D/deaf students as an exception within the university’s population.
accommodations , disability studies , discourse analysis , higher education