Coming to Critical Disability Studies: Critical Reflections on Disability in Health and Social Work Professions
This paper describes how four ‘helping’ professionals came to embrace and teach critical disability studies (CDS) perspectives rather than biomedical approaches to impairment and disability that traditionally inform those professions (occupational therapy, physiotherapy, social work, and speech-language pathology). Sharing examples from our experiences, we describe how we came to question the normative, ableist assumptions of our professional disciplines. We then briefly outline literature demonstrating how critical approaches have been incorporated into professional research and practice and discuss possible obstacles and tensions in adopting more widespread critical approaches into professional spaces. We conclude by suggesting that continued development of connections among scholars and activists within CDS, rehabilitation and social work, and the community, is necessary to ensure that intersectional critical perspectives in relation to disability become a core component of professional training programs.
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