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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 Ten: Difference through Documentary


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Difference THROUGH Documentary


In a media production classroom, the pedagogy often focuses on ways for students to master highly technical equipment and software programs. Students are taught the right way to use the software, the proper way to work the manual camera, and the correct way to save their work. The experience for both teacher and student is one of balancing the art and the craft in the learning. A concentration on the technological aspect can often overpower other important aspects of the storytelling process like listening, imagination, difference, otherness, and a sense of curiosity. When it comes time to take the equipment out for a field shoot, students tend to pick story topics they know well and already feel comfortable with. This choice removes some of the ambiguity in the production process, but also limits the experience students might have and creates and reifies homogeneous beliefs and life experiences. They are stepping out to learn new technology, so they “play it safe” with the content. This chapter aims to share my experience of stepping out to embrace difference and otherness with my students through documentary production.

Critical pedagogy is a philosophy and social movement that combines education and critical theory, a movement that raises awareness of power relationships and social justice. Elizabeth Ellsworth, Paulo Freire, and Maxine Greene are three critical pedagogy theorists who have inspired me to find an educational...

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