Institutionalized Ableism and the Misguided "Disability Awareness Day": Transformative Pedagogies for Teacher Education

Document Type


Publication Date



Despite acknowledgement among social justice educators about the need to infuse anti-bias lessons in K-12 curricula, discussions of disability oppression are silent in schools. Token efforts at addressing the topic of disability generally manifest as "disability awareness day(s)" and often include "disability simulations," which have been long condemned by disability rights activists as promoting cultural attitudes that are ableist in nature. In this article, we discuss a qualitative inquiry that examines shifts in the perceptions of graduate students, with regard to the pedagogical use of disability simulations for teaching children about disability. The context of this study is a teacher education course informed by critical disability studies perspectives. The findings indicate transformations in students' thinking about the ableism implicit in disability simulations. We discuss the implications of this inquiry for social justice education, and suggest ways to prepare educators to disrupt the socio-political dimensions of disability oppression.



This document is currently not available here.