Special Issue: Disability Studies in Education


Theories and Practices of Disability Studies in Education: A Call to Action 

While public education has done much to move away from its oppressive identification with such [eugenic] beliefs of the past, the underlying [deficit] logic of disability has not undergone any drastic transformation, but is in fact reinforced in more insidious ways. Nirmala Erevelles (“Educating Unruly Bodies,” 2000, Educational Theory, p. 47)

By setting the issue of disability and all forms of oppression within a human rights perspective, the possibilities for the realization of a society based on community, solidarity and in which difference can be viewed in dignified ways, becomes much stronger.

—Len Barton (In Inclusive Education: Supporting Inclusion in Education Systems, ed. H. Daniels and P. Garner, 1999, p. 61)

How can the ways in which a disabled existence interacts with the culture that surrounds it and organizes it be listened to for the whisper of that seemingly unsayable that resonates with new content, new meaning, inserting itself into our understanding of the social significance of the situation of disability?

—Tanya Titchkosky (Disability, Self and Society, 2003, p. 36)

The right of disabled people to quality inclusive education has been formally recognized by Canada within the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Yet, symbolic and institutional governance, violence, exclusion, and oppression continue to be reproduced by educational systems. Rather than education, these systems often recruit disabled students, educators and families into regimes that ‘fix’ disability not as a social problem, but an individual problem of broken bodies and minds in need of remediation.

We invite submissions that innovate theoretical and methodological approaches to disability in education from diverse fields including, for examples, social sciences, social justice education, Indigenous studies, humanities, women, gender and sexuality studies and fine or media arts. This means understanding disability as a political, cultural and social category, and education as a phenomenon that occurs within and beyond formal institutions of schooling.

We invite papers that explore both the transformative possibilities of education and seek to disrupt hegemonic psychological, medical and deficit models of disability alongside the disquieting implication of educators, researchers, practitioners and families in paternalistic and often violent educational practices—such as segregation and residential schools—structured by ableist colonial logics and neoliberal capitalism. Papers that take critical, creative and intersectional approaches, including dialogues with other theoretical perspectives such as critical race, queer, decolonial and feminist theory, and creative research methods will be prioritized.

Some possible avenues for inquiry may include, for example:

  • Social contexts of disability and education
  • Social stratification and educational attainment among disabled people
  • Methodology (i.e., who participates in education-related research?)
  • Governance and oppression in education (e.g., medicalization, ableism, racialization)
  • Education policy and practice
  • Exclusionary practices across educational contexts
  • Innovative educational practices
  • Forms of disability activism
  • Teacher activism
  • Disability Arts and education as spaces of resistance
  • “Othering” of disabled students/educators in higher education and public schools
  • Academic ableism in post-secondary education
  • Future directions and emancipatory opportunities in research, theory and practice

Submissions are due November 1st, 2019. For paper guidelines, please visit: http://cjds.uwaterloo.ca/index.php/cjds/about/submissions

Please submit electronically in Microsoft Word format to the special issue’s guest editors

Dr. Patty Douglas at DouglasP@BrandonU.CA and Alan Santinele Martino at