Power and Privilege in DS Provision Tanja Beck McGill University AHEAD 2014 – Sacramento, CA Introductions Tanja Beck Working in DS professional since 4 years Core responsibilities: promote the inclusion of diverse learners, 50% working with students, 50% working with Faculty, UDL, disability and anti-oppression training and workshops As an Access Adviser in the Office for Students with Disabilities, I benefit from the marginalization and oppression of disabled people Workshop participants Who are you? Where do you work? What are your expectations for today? Goals • To raise awareness of our own social location and privileges • To integrate this knowledge into our daily practices • To challenge the perpetuation of oppressive systems on a personal and institutional level Roadmap for today • • • • • Historical Perspectives of Disability Prevalent frameworks Ableism, Privilege and Power Power and Privilege in DS Provision Becoming agents of social change Historical perspectives Era Middle Ages Spiritual: Physical and mental illness unchangeable condition resulting from sin Devil, witch, sinner Prosecuted, tortured, burned 1800 (medicalization of disability) Medical Science: genetic deficit, inferior Objects of curiosity, deranged monsters, freaks, same category as prostitutes, immigrants Displayed in carnival freak shows, hidden in asylums, beg on the streets 1850 (Eugenics, medical) genetic deficit, defective, undesirable Negative attitudes towards people with disabilities, deformed objects Sterilization, euthanasia, institutionalization 1950s (deinstitutionalization movement/ WW II) Physically and mentally ill, patients, disabled, handicapped Objects of pity, burden, “patients”, dependents, reliant Rehabilitation, segregated in schools, sheltered workplace, patients who need help and supervision 1970s (independent living movement) People first language = people with disabilities Citizens, civil rights, independent, controlling their own lives Reh. Act Section 504 prohibits discrimination against handicapped, mainstreaming, independent living 1990s (Americans with Disabilities Act) - today People with Disabilities, diverse individuals, diverse learners, disability as diversity Equal citizens, equality of people with disabilities Full participation, equal, antioppression, access as a right, social justice, UD and UDL, awareness campaigns, WHO Manifestations of disability stereotypes in media Enforcing stereotypes Enforcing labelling How do stereotypes work? • We use values, characteristics and features of dominant group as the supposedly neutral standard against which everyone is measured (University system, asking for documentation) – normalizing standards of society • Language to distinguish dominant from subordinate groups which leads to • Stereotyping (the student with ADHD or even students with disabilities) assigns a group identity to students with disabilities although disability is a complex experience, different in individual experience but also experienced differently depending on environment The medical model Reframing Disability The social model of disability Distinction between the two frameworks Framework Approach Practice Medical • Disability is a problem for • Environments are designed the individual, personal according to normalizing tragedy standards of society • dichotomy able vs. disabled • access is achieved through • Focused on diagnosis specialized accommodations Social • Disability is a problem stemming from the environment • Disability is socially constructed through barriers that exist in environment • The system/environment is designed, to the greatest extent possible, to be usable by all • Access is inclusive Why social group membership? • Traditional research on inequalities and forms of discrimination such as ableism, racism, sexism focused on the oppressed groups • The concept of privilege is relatively new, emerged 15 to 20 years ago for the first time • Privilege is a result of our social location, the belonging to or being excluded from one of the dominant social groups that exist within society • Vice versa, Oppression is also a result of our social location • We are never purely oppressed or privileged, our social group location varies • Social group locations also interact with each other, they work together to privilege or oppress • What are social groups? And what is social group membership? Social Group Membership • Belonging to a social groups shapes our reality • Dominant and subordinate groups • Dominant group determines structure of society and assigns roles and values to members from subordinate groups • Categories such as class, gender, race and ability establish and maintain a social order • Dominant group is seen as the norm • The dominant group is everywhere: TV, ads, newspapers Reflective Exercise: Social Group membership • Diversity wheel exercise Privilege • Are a result of our social location • An invisible backpack of unearned assets, an knapsack of special provisions, passports, tools etc. • One group has something of value that is denied to others because of the social groups they belong to • We are unaware of our privileges, this makes them so dangerous, easy to perpetuate this system • Examples are white privilege, male privilege, able bodied privilege Reflective exercise privilege Power • The ability to coerce another’s behavior • Members of dominant social groups hold power • Power accrues to those who are closest to “the norm” (able bodied, hetero sexual, white etc.) • Professional power = authority, power that is associated with our professional roles as “specialists”, comes from organizational/institutional power structures Ableism as form of Privilege and Disability Oppression • System of discrimination, oppression and exclusion of people with disabilities • A set of discriminatory ideas and practices that construct the world in such a way that it favors the able-bodied and marginalizes the disabled • “ideas, practices, institutions and social relations that presume able bodiedness, and by so doing, construct persons with disabilities as marginalised … and largely invisible ‘others’” (Chouinard) • System organized around privilege are: – Dominated by privileged groups – Identified with privileged groups – Centered on privileged • Functions on individual, institutional and cultural level Power and Privilege in our professional roles • How does ableism manifest itself in our daily practices on an individual, institutional and cultural level? • How might power and privilege affect advising situations? • How might it show in our relationships with students? • Can you identify systems of privilege on an institutional level? • Brainstorm! How to initiate change? • Recognize that disability oppression exists • Be aware and acknowledge your personal biases, stereotypes and privilege • Reflect on your own practices, privilege, biases on a regular basis, question yourself • Act: identify and remove barriers in your daily routines and processes, remove medical model practices and replace them by inclusive, social model practices Recognizing Ableist Practices Ableist Inclusive Assuming that people with disabilities are unable to make their own decisions; limiting the ability to make their own decision (“I think you should…” “It would be best for you if…”) Accept that person is more than their disability. The have the right to make their own decisions with varying degrees of success and failure as everyone else Imposing help thereby taking control away from the person (“Let me hold this door for you…”) Ask a person if they need assistance, do not impose accommodations as the expert professional, be an active listener, engage in a dialogue Establishing lower expectations (e.g. students with LDs) Be aware of unnecessary barriers, remove barriers and hold students accountable to the same academic standards as everyone else (UDL) Taking the role as the specialist in advising We are not the specialists, discuss and interactions with students strengths and weaknesses and have student determine the course of action Ableist Inclusive Documentation guidelines (ask students wit MH to submit updated documentation) Rethink your documentation guidelines, follow AHEADs documentation guidelines, provide temporary accommodations Use medical documentation as primary information Start with the students self report, barriers they experience and decide with the student if their assessment might have additional information Using language that implies power imbalance such as “What can I do for you today?” “What do you need?” Using language that opens up a mutual conversation “What brings you here today?” Using language that implies that the student/disability is the problem such as “What is causing your problem?” “What is your problem?” Discuss the student’s individual strengths and weaknesses focusing on barriers in the learning environment “What barriers are you experiencing?” Generalizations such as “From my experience students with LDs need…” Always keep in mind that students experience barriers in many different ways depending on the environment and the context Thank you!