Stories from the Field
Edited By David J. Connor and Beth A. Ferri
17. Education Is Power: But Only if You Can Get into the Building
My journey toward Disability Studies (DS) and Disability Studies in Education (DSE) began at the age of six when I was paralyzed in a car accident and became a life-long wheeler. As an adult, I proudly identify as disabled, but this was not always the case. While I have used a chair for most of my life, it was during college and as a teacher when I began to take ownership of that identity. Daily encounters with issues of access, inclusion, and exclusion have not only shaped my embodiment of disability, but also the work that I do through teaching, research, and advocacy.
Growing up, I attended an accommodating school district without even knowing that inclusion was (and still is) not afforded to everyone. It was not until I began teaching in New York City (NYC) public schools that I even fathomed a school may not be accessible for all to enter through the front door together. However, even within this mostly inclusive school experience, there were non-inclusive elements. I rode the “special bus” or “short bus” as this was the only wheelchair accessible option for transportation in our town. I remember being fond of the bus driver, but hating the experience of getting on and off the bus and the loud electric motor and intense buzzing sound as the lift elevated me from the sidewalk into the bus. Facing sideways, my chair was secured to the floor with a metal bar through the...
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