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Dismantling the Disabling Environments of Education

Creating New Cultures and Contexts for Accommodating Difference


Edited By Peter Smagorinsky, Joseph Tobin and Kyunghwa Lee

Dismantling the Disabling Environments of Education: Creating New Cultures and Contexts for Accommodating Difference challenges assumptions that view people of difference to be "abnormal," that isolate attention to their difference solely in the individual, that treat areas of difference as matters of deficiency, and that separate youth of difference from the mainstream and treat them as pathologized. As outsiders to mainstream special education, the authors of this collection take a more social and cultural perspective that views the surrounding social environment as at least as problematic as any point of difference in any individual. Most of the scholars contributing to this volume work with preservice and inservice teachers and grapple with issues of curriculum and pedagogy. One of the primary audiences we hope to reach with this book is our colleagues and practitioners who have not made special education or disability studies the focus of their careers, but who, like we, are determined to engage with the full range of people who attend schools. Dismantling the Disabling Environments of Education: Creating New Cultures and Contexts for Accommodating Difference can be a valuable text for undergraduate and graduate courses in teacher education, as it addresses key issues of inclusion, diversity, equity, and differentiated approaches to educating the full range of students.

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Chapter Three: Blind and in Technicolor: A Personal Account of Adaptation (Gina Marie Applebee)


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Blind and in Technicolor

A Personal Account of Adaptation


Blindness and neurologic divergence have been unique, integral parts of a journey full of adversity, adventure, and adaptation. Personally, I would not trade this rich, unusual life experience for 20/20 vision and all the money in the world, and have come to hold an affirmative social view of diverse abilities as essential aspects of human diversity, and significant factors in my own being and growth. In this chapter, I offer a brief autoethnographic account of lessons learned through losing my sight, being neurologically divergent, and developing a type of pan-sensory synesthesia. Additionally, I aim to share insights into inclusion and adaptive accommodation in our educational systems gained through these life experiences, for the purpose of promoting alternative understandings of diverse abilities and transforming such systems.

At first glance, it seems easy for casual observers to assume that my life, and perhaps my identity, have been primarily shaped, or even defined by, my blindness and adversities associated with it. Though losing my sight and developing subsequent adaptation has played a pivotal role, such a view is reductionistic and simply incorrect. Progressively going blind over the first 23 years of my life was indeed a difficult, important part of my development, but has by no means been the only or the most challenging and influential factor.

Intersectionality among being neurologically divergent,...

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