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The Discourse of Disability in Communication Education

Narrative-Based Research for Social Change

Edited By Ahmet Atay and Mary Z. Ashlock

This book examines the ways in which communicative practices influence the lives of students and faculty with disabilities in higher education. Offering their own experiences as teachers and students, the authors use qualitative research methods, mainly narrative and autoethnography, to highlight the intersections among communication, disability, diversity, and critical communication pedagogy. While embodying and emphasizing these connections, each chapter defines the notion of disability from a different point of view; summarizes the relevant literature; provides suggestions for different ways of improving the experiences of people with disabilities in higher education; promotes social change; and in some cases, promotes policy change. Overall, the volume promotes more effective, mindful, honest, and caring interaction between able-bodied and disabled individuals.
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Chapter Two: Navigating Communication Courses: The Impact of Visual Impairment on the Teacher–Student Relationship in Communication Classrooms


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Navigating Communication Courses

The Impact of Visual Impairment on the Teacher-Student Relationship in Communication Classrooms



Everyone has a story to tell. Some stories align with society’s master narrative, whereas others tell of different experiences and understandings. This chapter provides a retrospective look at the experiences of Deleasa, a sighted college professor, and Kelsey, an undergraduate communication studies major with a visual impairment. Deleasa has been a faculty member for the last two decades in the Department of Communication Studies at Ashland University, a small private institution located in north central Ohio. Kelsey was a transfer student who came to Ashland University after taking classes at a regional campus of a local state university. Our teacher–student relationship spanned several semesters and involved a wide range of courses, including performance studies, international storytelling, and interpersonal communication. We also shared the experience of academic advisor–advisee roles. Although there are many advantages to a small campus for a student with visual impairment, one disadvantage might be the limits of available support. Being a small campus, the Office of Disability Services offered Kelsey guidance and support to the best of their abilities in light of the small staff and limited resources.

Kelsey: Toward the end of my first semester at Ashland University, I changed my major from psychology to French with a minor in communication. Sometime during my...

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