Claiborne, L.B., Cornforth, S., Gibson, A. & Smith, A. (2011). Supporting students with impairments in higher education: social inclusion or cold comfort? International Journal of Inclusive Education, 15(5), 513-527.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/5683
This paper uses a discursive analysis to examine the experience of ‘inclusion’ from several stakeholder groups in one university. The research team included disability support staff at the institution, external disability consultants and academic researchers. A critical focus group investigation centred on four groups: students who were identified as having an impairment (SWIs), academic staff (teachers), administrators and students who did not identify as having an impairment (non‐SWIs). Interviews had facilitators with both research and disability expertise. Groups recounted different experiences of inclusion. SWIs, drawing on a rights discourse, emphasised a lack of resourcing and barriers created by the teaching staff. In contrast, teachers, administrators and (to a lesser extent) non‐SWIs emphasised the importance of social inclusion, reflecting discourses around needs and humanist notions of care and support, which largely seemed to miss the core of SWI concerns about recognition of their technical competence. For all groups, questions around disclosure of disability were of greater concern than tensions between needs and rights or the recent publication of a Code of Practice for the higher education sector. The findings challenged some of the researchers’ own assumptions, with unexpected implications for practice.
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