Acting Toward Social Change
Edited By David J. Connor, Jan W. Valle and Chris Hale
4. Enacting Research: Disability Studies in Education and Performative Inquiry
JAN W. VALLE
“Theatre has had an historic role in society as providing a relatively safe way of talking back to power. Across many cultures and traditions over time we can trace patterns and instances of groups of people using the stage as a space and place to tell their stories.”
—Prendergast & Saxton (2009)
As a professor in the childhood education program at the City College of New York (CCNY) who teaches inclusive education courses outside of a special education program, I primarily identify as a disability studies in education (DSE) scholar. I came to the DSE community having been a special education teacher, co-founder and educational director of a private school for children with learning disabilities, educational evaluator/consultant/parent advocate for a developmental pediatrics clinic, and educational director for a nonprofit organization dedicated to meeting lifespan needs of people with learning disabilities. I consider my current work within the university as the latest iteration of a longtime engagement with the field of special education. It is within this multiplicity of lived experiences that I ground my DSE research agenda.
Central to my research is the understanding of disability as a civil rights issue. As an undergraduate majoring in special education as P.L. 94–142 (Education for All Handicapped Children Act, 1975) passed into law, I was deeply influenced by the political activism of parents of children with disabilities and their advocates whose efforts redefined a nation’s response to disability....
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