Education for disability equality through disabled people’s life stories and narratives: working and learning together in a school-based professional development programme for inclusion
SourceEuropean Journal of Special Needs Education
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This paper reports on the findings of an action research project that took place in a primary school in Cyprus. A professional development programme was devised with contributions from teachers involved in the research. The programme was aimed at helping teachers to map the difficulties they encounter when working with their students on disability-related issues (e.g. attitudes towards disabled children and adults, disabled people’s rights, disabled people’s views about social inequalities). Theoretical concepts from Inclusive Education and Disability Studies informed the design of a programme in which disabled people’s own views and narratives of their lives or significant life incidences (e.g. found in interviews and published work) were used to help teachers confront their preconceptions about disability issues and think of new approaches to discuss disability with their students. The findings suggest that this is a promising approach. These include teachers’ understanding of disability as a social rather than a medical issue, increased confidence in discussing disability issues with students and curriculum enrichment through the use of disabled people’s narratives. This discussion maps the process through which teachers learn and teach using disabled people’s life stories, and draws links with international research and theoretical standpoints.