Chantel Bongiovanni

Experiencing inclusive
policy in higher
A narrative study
Chantel Bongiovanni
Research Centre for Languages and Cultures
University of South Australia
1. Scope & background to the study
2. Data: Policy
1. Data: Xavier & Anna
2. Preliminary discussion
“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
 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
 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.
 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,
 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,
 ‘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,
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.
 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
 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
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
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
 Bringing it all together – How do we understand and experience
inclusion and inclusive practices?
 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.
 Bury, M. (1996). Defining and researching disability: Challenges and
responses. In C. Barnes & G. Mercer (Eds.), Exploring the divide (pp. 1838). Leeds: The Disability Press.
 Commonwealth of Australia. (1992). Disability Discrimination Act.
Canberra, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia.
- (2006). Disability standards for
education. Canberra, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia.
- (2011). National disability strategy:
Summary document. ACT: Commonwealth of Australia.
 Finkelstein, V. (2001). The social model of disability repossessed. Paper
presented at the Manchester Coalition of Disabled People, Manchester.
 Fulcher, G. (1989). Disabling policies? A comparative approach to education
policy and disability. Philadephlia: The Falmer Press.
 Hegarty, S. (2001). Inclusive education - A case to answer. Journal of Moral
Education, 30(3), 243-249.
 Kajee, L. (2010). Disability, social inclusion and technological positioning in a
South African higher education institution: Carmen's story. The Language
Learning Journal, 38(3), 379-392.
 O'Connor, B., Power, D., Watson, R., & Hartley, J. (1998). Students with
disabilities: Code of practice for Australian tertiary institutions. Kelvin Grove,
QLD: QUT Publications.
 Oliver, M. (1990). The politics of disablement. London: The Macmillan Press
 Pavan, J. A. (2013). Segregation hurts: Voices of youth with disabilities and
their families in India (Vol. 19). Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
 Slee, R. (2007). Inclusive education - Aspirations scrambled by the yoke of
history? In M. Keefe & S. Carrington (Eds.), Schools and diversity (2nd ed.,
pp. 1-16). NSW: Pearson Education Australia.
 Thomas, C. (2007). Sociologies of disability and illness: Contested ideas in
disability studies and medical sociology. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
 Thomas, G., & Loxley, A. (2007). Deconstructing special education and
constructing inclusion. Buckingham, GBR: Open University Press.
 Warschauer, M. (2003). Technology and social inclusion: Rethinking the
digital divide. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
 Winzer, M., & Mazurek, K. (2005). Current reforms in special education:
Delusion or solution? In J. Zajda (Ed.), International handbook on
globalisation, education and policy research (pp. 643-658). Netherlands:
 UNESCO. (1994). The salamanca statement and framework for action
on special needs education. Salamanca, Spain: UNESCO.
 UNESCO. (2009). Towards inclusive education for children with
disabilities: A guideline. Bangkok, Thailand: UNESCO Bangkok.
 United Nations. (2006). Convention on the rights of persons with
disabilities. Geneva, Switzerland: United Nations.

similar documents