Experiencing inclusive policy in higher education: A narrative study Chantel Bongiovanni Research Centre for Languages and Cultures University of South Australia Outline 1. Scope & background to the study 2. Data: Policy 1. Data: Xavier & Anna 2. Preliminary discussion Focus “How do students with disabilities experience higher education in the context of policies for ‘inclusion’”? The Study First data set: Analysis of relevant policies on ‘inclusion’ What do these policies say about disability, support and inclusion? Second data set: 12 participants – current university students with a physical disability 3-interviews over a 3-month period A narrative approach, aiming to look at how policies for ‘inclusion’ are understood and experienced by participants in their stories Background Emergence of social model of disability as a critique of medical model in interpreting disability (Barnes & Mercer, 1997; Bury, 1996; Finkelstein, 2001; Oliver, 1990; Thomas, 2007). A gradual paradigm shift from segregation, to integration and currently to inclusion (Hegarty, 2001; Pavan, 2013; Winzer & Mazurek, 2005). Inclusion today is a major policy initiative. Policies International declarations/statements: Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities (United Nations, 2006) The Salamanca statement – “…calls for a policy shift which would require all schools… to become inclusive” (UNESCO, 1994; UNESCO, 2009, p. 12) Policies cont… Australian national policies: Disability discrimination act (Commonwealth of Australia, 1992) Disability standards for education (Commonwealth of Australia, 2006) National Disability Strategy – “an inclusive Australia society that enables people with disability to fulfill their potential as equal citizens” (Commonwealth of Australia, 2011, p. 1). University policies: Students with disabilities: Code of practice for Australian tertiary institutions (O'Connor, Power, Watson, & Hartley, 1998) Inclusion ‘Inclusion’ refers to the notion that a person can participate and be in control of their life circumstances (Kajee, 2010; Warschauer, 2003) In education, ‘inclusion’ emphasises that ‘barriers’ need to be removed in order to accomplish inclusivity; it “assumes acceptance and respect of difference” (Allan, 2008; Bourke, 2010, p. 184) There is growing body of work that has critiqued ‘inclusion’ itself (Ainscow, Booth & Dyson, 2006; Armstrong et al., 2010; Slee, 2007; Thomas & Loxley, 2007) Inclusion cont… The critique relates to: What does being included actually mean? How do we talk about inclusion? What do we mean when we talk to others about it? How do we know when it’s being achieved and when it’s not? How far do we go? How do we go about creating meaningful inclusion? How is “it” actually experienced? Inclusion & Disability “Inclusion means different things to different people” (Armstrong, Armstrong & Spandagou, 2010, p. 29) What does this mean for those who are experiencing processes of inclusion everyday? Inclusion & Disability cont… “Disability is an extraordinarily complex phenomenon but this complexity derives, primarily, not from the intricacies of physical lesions but from the social and political use to which the construct of disability is put, independent of the presence, or intricacies, of an impairment” (Fulcher, 1989, p. 25) How do people with disabilities negotiate and experience the complexity of disability in light of policies promoting inclusion? Does this complexity disappear because we have ‘inclusion’? Policy Students with disabilities: Code of practice for Australian tertiary institutions The institution has a responsibility to establish an inclusive learning environment, it’s staff to learn about those principles and for policies to be regularly reviewed to embed good practice (A4, A7.2(f), B1.6(b), C1, D1). What does making an “inclusive learning environment” mean? What does it implicate for the experiences of those it directly affects? Xavier & Relatability X: -Many of my friends I’ve made at university have been people who’ve never met a person with a disability beforeC: Okay. X: -Meeting me and so I think there is a degree of reassuring them that you know I am- I am capable of being their friend• “Doors are my natural enemy!” • “I should just take the stairs” Xavier & the Paradox of Independence X: …I think it’s about making things as subtle and unobvious- if that’s a word-as possibleC: Yes. X: -In terms of giving you support but not the sort that’s advertising that support-um, or ensuring that support allows you to do as much in the classroom as possibleC: Mhm. X: -‘Cause there are certainly some things that I just cannot do and obviously I need support to do that but it’s ensuring that support breeds independence... Anna & Stigma You just don’t want to have tell- be the one hounding [emphasis] the lecturers, you don’t want to have that- C: No. A: -Stigma of being the annoying um, “oh gosh, that girl in the wheelchair that needs all that help” like- C: Yeah [laughs] exactly… I mean, did you like so did you feel that um, like is that something that worries you a lot? Like just being the one that’s like- A: Aww, I just- I hate having the focus of needing the extra assistance I-I wanna be on a level playing field with everybody else, I don’t want to feel like I need special treatment um, because academically I’m fine I don’t need- I just need a book that’s digital it’s not like difficult- Preliminary Discussion There’s a difference between inclusive policies and inclusion taking place: is it more than just support structures? In Xavier’s examples, who is creating an inclusive experience? By making himself relatable to others, is he meaningfully included in this environment? For Anna, how do you obtain appropriate support without alienating yourself from others? …What next? Completion of interview data set – what do the participants’ stories tell about their experiences of inclusion? Completion of review of policy documents – how do these policies understand inclusion, disability and support? What does this mean for the experiences participants retold in interviews? Bringing it all together – How do we understand and experience inclusion and inclusive practices? References Ainscow, M., Booth, T., & Dyson, A. (2006). Improving schools, developing inclusion. London: Routledge. Allan, J. (2008). Rethinking inclusive education: The philosophers of difference in practice. Dordecht: Springer. Armstrong, A. C., Armstrong, D., & Spandagou, I. (2010). Inclusive education: International policy & practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Barnes, C., & Mercer, G. (1997). Breaking the mould? An introduction to doing disability research. In C. Barnes & G. Mercer (Eds.), Doing disability research. Leeds: The Disability Press. Bourke, P. E. (2010). Inclusive education reform in Queensland: Implications for policy and practice. International Journal for Inclusive Education, 14(2), 183-193. References Bury, M. (1996). Defining and researching disability: Challenges and responses. In C. Barnes & G. 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