Who We Are


DSE Tenets & Approaches

DSE Tenets
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.
Add Content...