Title

Occupational injustice on campus: Students with disabilities having to legitimize their roles

Location

New River Room B

Start Time

2-10-2015 10:45 AM

End Time

2-10-2015 12:15 PM

Session Type

Research Paper

Abstract

Introduction: Policymakers articulate the right to equitable access to occupational opportunities for individuals with disabilities (Hammell, 2015). Nevertheless, individuals with disabilities remain underrepresented in universities, are more likely to drop out than students without disabilities, and experience higher unemployment rates (Dutta, Scguri-Geist, & Kundu, 2009; Mpofu & Wilson, 2004; Rimmerman & Araten-Bergman, 2005). These inequities are especially pronounced in health and human service (HHS) programs, which creates an occupational injustice by limiting engagement within school and work. Moreover, this hinders the development of a population of HHS professionals who accurately represent the diversity of the society that they serve. To address these occupational deprivations, we must further our understanding of the barriers faced by students with disabilities who are in HHS programs.

Methods: Our interdisciplinary team conducted in-depth interviews with students in the HHS sector who identified as having a disability to explore the barriers, challenges, and facilitators that they experienced in engaging in occupation, specifically those associated with being a student in HHS programs. Interview transcripts were analyzed using iterative qualitative data analysis techniques.

Results: We found that students felt they had to engage in a process of legitimating their ability to perform the roles of good student and future practitioner. This legitimization process involves three components: negotiation of the disability label, selective disclosure, and advocacy.

Discussion: Our findings demonstrate how subtle and insidious forms of marginalization and stigmatization work to create barriers and challenges for individuals with disabilities within the HHS sector. This is a mechanism through which occupational choice and justice are limited for persons with disabilities.

Contribution to Knowledge: This study is an important addition to the dearth of literature examining the participation of persons with disabilities in HHS professions and educational programs, which is a gap representing an important area of occupational injustice that must be addressed. Understanding the experiences of students with disabilities in HHS programs will help us change existing structures and processes in order to facilitate the participation of students with disabilities. This will help students thrive within universities, thereby improving their occupational health and well-being, as well as ultimately increasing the diversity of the future clinical population. Answering the call of Laliberte Rudman and colleagues (2008), this research is informed by critical perspectives and aims not only at producing knowledge about social transformation, but also at taking action through knowledge exchange and dissemination strategies.

References

Dutta, A., Scguri-Geist, C., & Kundu, M., (2009). Coordination of postsecondary transition services for students with disability. Journal of Rehabilitation, 75, 10-17.

Hammell, K. W. (2015). Participation and occupation The need for a human rights perspective. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 82(1), 4-5.

Laliberte Rudman, D., Dennhardt, S., Fok, D., Huot, S., Molke, D., Park, A., & Zur, B. (2008). A vision for occupational science: Reflecting on our disciplinary culture. Journal of Occupational Science, 15(3), 136–146. doi:10.1080/14427591.2008.9686623

Mpofu, E. & Wilson, K. (2004). Opportunity structure and transition practices with students with disabilities: The role of family, culture, and community. Journal of Applied Rehab Counseling, 35, 9-16.

Rimmerman, A., & Araten-Bergman, T. (2005). Legislation of handicapped rights and its implementation in Israel: Trends and future directions. Social Security Journal, 69, 11-31.

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Oct 2nd, 10:45 AM Oct 2nd, 12:15 PM

Occupational injustice on campus: Students with disabilities having to legitimize their roles

New River Room B

Introduction: Policymakers articulate the right to equitable access to occupational opportunities for individuals with disabilities (Hammell, 2015). Nevertheless, individuals with disabilities remain underrepresented in universities, are more likely to drop out than students without disabilities, and experience higher unemployment rates (Dutta, Scguri-Geist, & Kundu, 2009; Mpofu & Wilson, 2004; Rimmerman & Araten-Bergman, 2005). These inequities are especially pronounced in health and human service (HHS) programs, which creates an occupational injustice by limiting engagement within school and work. Moreover, this hinders the development of a population of HHS professionals who accurately represent the diversity of the society that they serve. To address these occupational deprivations, we must further our understanding of the barriers faced by students with disabilities who are in HHS programs.

Methods: Our interdisciplinary team conducted in-depth interviews with students in the HHS sector who identified as having a disability to explore the barriers, challenges, and facilitators that they experienced in engaging in occupation, specifically those associated with being a student in HHS programs. Interview transcripts were analyzed using iterative qualitative data analysis techniques.

Results: We found that students felt they had to engage in a process of legitimating their ability to perform the roles of good student and future practitioner. This legitimization process involves three components: negotiation of the disability label, selective disclosure, and advocacy.

Discussion: Our findings demonstrate how subtle and insidious forms of marginalization and stigmatization work to create barriers and challenges for individuals with disabilities within the HHS sector. This is a mechanism through which occupational choice and justice are limited for persons with disabilities.

Contribution to Knowledge: This study is an important addition to the dearth of literature examining the participation of persons with disabilities in HHS professions and educational programs, which is a gap representing an important area of occupational injustice that must be addressed. Understanding the experiences of students with disabilities in HHS programs will help us change existing structures and processes in order to facilitate the participation of students with disabilities. This will help students thrive within universities, thereby improving their occupational health and well-being, as well as ultimately increasing the diversity of the future clinical population. Answering the call of Laliberte Rudman and colleagues (2008), this research is informed by critical perspectives and aims not only at producing knowledge about social transformation, but also at taking action through knowledge exchange and dissemination strategies.