Access and Inclusion: The Experiences of Postsecondary Students with Mobility-Related Physical Disabilities
Keywords:Post-secondary students, mobility-related physical disabilities, physical and social environments, access, inclusion, barriers, facilitator
Relatively little is known about how physical and social environments influence access to and inclusion in educational and leisure activities for students with a mobility-related physical disability attending a post-secondary institution. Understanding how environments shape access is important because educational and leisure activities affect one’s emotional, social, mental, and physical health. The aim of this qualitative exploratory study was to gain an understanding of the lived experiences of access and inclusion for students with a mobility-related physical disability, and specifically, the barriers and facilitators within the physical and social environments which shape access and inclusion. One-on-one semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine students attending a post-secondary institution in Nova Scotia, Canada who self-identified as living with a mobility-related physical disability. From an analysis of the interviews, five themes emerged: 1) navigating disclosure; 2) invisibility (and passing) and visibility; 3) accommodations and supports; 4) the prevailing conceptualization of mobility-related disabilities; and 5) places and spaces for the “normal” body. Although there have been actions taken by the post-secondary institution to transform environments and improve access and inclusion, additional efforts are urgently needed, and it is suggested that Universal Design is one possible strategy.
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