Disability Studies in Education SIG 143
SIG Purpose

Access and Accessibility, especially here at AERA, continue to be a top priority of the DSE SIG.  Please click here to read our 2014 white paper --->    AERA DSE SIG Accessibility Whitepaper_2014.pdf


The mission of the Disability Studies in Education SIG is to promote the understanding of disability from a social model perspective drawing on social, cultural, historical, discursive, philosophical, literary, aesthetic, artistic, and other traditions to challenge medical, scientific, and psychological models of disability as they relate to education. 


To engage in research, policy, and action that

  • contextualize disability within political and social 
  • privilege the interest, agendas, and voices of people labeled with disability/disabled people
  • promote social justice, equitable and inclusive educational opportunities, and full and meaningful access to all aspects of society for people labeled with disability/disabled people
  • assume competence and reject deficit models of disability

The purpose of Disability Studies in Education is: to provide an organizational vehicle for networking among Disability Studies researchers in education; and to increase the visibility and influence of Disability Studies among all educational researchers.

Approaches to Theory, Research, & Practice in DSE

Examples of approaches to theory and DSE may include:

  • Contrasts medical, scientific, psychological understandings with social and experiential understandings of disability
  • Predominantly focuses on political, social, cultural, historical, social, and individual understandings of disability
  • Supports the education of students labeled with disabilities in non-segregated settings from a civil rights stance.
  • Engages work that discerns the oppressive nature of essentialized/categorical/medicalized naming of disability in schools, policy, institutions, and the law while simultaneously recognizing the political power that may be found in collective and individual activism and pride through group-specific claims to disabled identities and positions
  • Recognizes the embodied/aesthetic experiences of people whose lives/selves are made meaningful as disabled, as well as troubles the school and societal discourses that position such experiences as “othered” to an assumed normate
  • Includes disabled people in theorizing about disability

Examples of approaches to research and DSE may include:

  • Welcomes scholars with disabilities and non-disabled scholars working together
  • Recognizes and privileges the knowledge derived from the lived experience of people with disabilities
  • Whenever possible adheres to an emancipatory stance (for example, working with people with disabilities as informed participants or co-researchers, not “subjects”)
  • Welcomes intradisciplinary approaches to understanding the phenomenon of disability, e.g. with educational foundations, special education, etc.
  • Cultivates interdisciplinary approaches to understanding the phenomenon of disability, e.g. interfacing with multicultural education, the humanities, social sciences, philosophy, cultural studies, etc.
  • Challenges research methodology that objectifies, marginalizes, and oppresses people with disabilities.

Examples of approaches to practice and DSE may include:

  • Disability primarily recognized and valued as natural part of human diversity
  • Disability and inclusive education
  • Disability culture and identity as part of a multicultural curriculum
  • Disability Rights Movement studied as part of the civil rights movement
  • Disability history and culture and the contributions of disabled people as integral to all aspects of the curriculum
  • Supporting disabled students in the development of a positive disability identity

Future Possibilities

While Disability Studies stretches back for almost thirty years, DSE is a relatively new field, not yet a decade old. Bearing this in mind, scholars in DSE have articulated some areas of further potential study. These include:

  • Constructing a new discourse of disability in education that emphasizes disability in its socio-political contexts and that is respectful of disabled people.
  • Connections, overlaps, and dissonance between DSE and special education
  • Tensions, paradoxes, contradictions, and reticence within education toward conceptualizations of diversity that include disability
  • An intersectional approach to understanding disability at the interstices of class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, etc.
  • Explicit and tangible examples of ways in which DSE under girds classroom practices.



Message from SIG Chair

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Hello SIG members -

      We are very much looking forward to another excellent annual meeting - this year in New York City! Lynn and I have a few announcements we would like to pass on. 
     First, for health-related reasons Ibby Grace had to step down from her final year as SIG Co-chair. Please know that Ibby is doing well, but had requested that I (Danielle Cowley) step in as her "proxy" for 2017-2018. As per our SIG bylaws, the executive committee (in collaboration with AERA SIG governance) voted that I serve as Interim SIG Co-chair for a 1-year term alongside our current SIG Co-chair Lynn Albee. If anyone has any questions or concerns regarding this process, please do let us know. 
     We are currently finalizing a call for officer nominations, which will be posted later this week. Our call for the Outstanding Dissertation Award will also be posted in the upcoming month.
     Lastly, we wanted to thank our SIG Program Co-chairs and reviewers for their tireless efforts in ensuring an exciting, thoughtful, and innovative program. Acceptance notifications have gone out and AERA will be working on program details/dates over the upcoming months. 
We look forward to seeing you all in New York!


Danielle and Lynn
SIG Co-chairs


Friday, August 11, 2017

Dear Disability Studies in Education (DSE) SIG members,

We hope your summer was restful, (re)juvenating and productive all around!

We write to wish you each a wonderful and productive 2017-2018 academic year and thank you all for your membership! Especially, everyone who responded by submitting a proposal to this year’s 2018 DSE call for papers for the 2018 annual American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference which will be held in New York! In addition, special thanks to those who have or are considering to sign up as volunteer session chairs and/or discussants! If you have not done so, you still have time before, the August 31st deadline. Please go here to sign up.

In addition, we are sending this letter to remind you that if you find that any of the submissions sent to you for review fall outside the parameters of the DSE SIG, please return the submission so that we can forward it to the appropriate Division or SIG. We have included the following link to help with your decision making:

• SIG Purpose—the SIG purpose provides you with an overview of who we are and our history.  (see above)

We look forward to serving you this coming up academic year and if you have any questions, please let us know!


Lynn G. Albee, Ed.D.
Program Chair of DSE SIG, AERA
Assistant Dean
School of Education
Program Director
Master of Arts in Education
Gifted Inclusive Education Graduate Certificate
OFFICE 612-728-5128
Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs
2500 Park Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55404-4403 USA

Jamie Buffington-Adams, Ph.D.
Co-Program Chair of DSE SIG, AERA
Assistant Dean
Coordinator of Special Education
Assistant Professor
School of Education
Indiana University East
2325 Chester Boulevard
Richmond, IN 47374

David I. Hernández-Saca

Co-Program Chair of DSE SIG, AERA
Assistant Professor
pronouns: him, he, his
Schindler Education Center 101A
Department of Special Education
College of Education
University of Northern Iowa
1227 W. 27th St.,
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0601
Work: 319-273-7646
Cell: 602-350-8892

Who We Are
Profile of Disability Studies in Education SIG #143 Members
SIG Officers


Structure & Government
Key Initiatives
 The Disability Studies in Education (DSE) Special Interest Group is pleased to invite nominations from junior faculty and graduate students of dissertations that represent outstanding/innovative theoretical and/or empirical work in the field of Disability Studies in Education.  
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