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Academic Ableism: Disability and Higher Education

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Academic Ableism brings together disability studies and institutional critique to recognize the ways that disability is composed in and by higher education, and rewrites the spaces, times, and economies of disability in higher education to place disability front and center. For too long, argues Jay Timothy Dolmage, disability has been constructed as the antithesis of highe Academic Ableism brings together disability studies and institutional critique to recognize the ways that disability is composed in and by higher education, and rewrites the spaces, times, and economies of disability in higher education to place disability front and center. For too long, argues Jay Timothy Dolmage, disability has been constructed as the antithesis of higher education, often positioned as a distraction, a drain, a problem to be solved. The ethic of higher education encourages students and teachers alike to accentuate ability, valorize perfection, and stigmatize anything that hints at intellectual, mental, or physical weakness, even as we gesture toward the value of diversity and innovation. Examining everything from campus accommodation processes, to architecture, to popular films about college life, Dolmage argues that disability is central to higher education, and that building more inclusive schools allows better education for all.


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Academic Ableism brings together disability studies and institutional critique to recognize the ways that disability is composed in and by higher education, and rewrites the spaces, times, and economies of disability in higher education to place disability front and center. For too long, argues Jay Timothy Dolmage, disability has been constructed as the antithesis of highe Academic Ableism brings together disability studies and institutional critique to recognize the ways that disability is composed in and by higher education, and rewrites the spaces, times, and economies of disability in higher education to place disability front and center. For too long, argues Jay Timothy Dolmage, disability has been constructed as the antithesis of higher education, often positioned as a distraction, a drain, a problem to be solved. The ethic of higher education encourages students and teachers alike to accentuate ability, valorize perfection, and stigmatize anything that hints at intellectual, mental, or physical weakness, even as we gesture toward the value of diversity and innovation. Examining everything from campus accommodation processes, to architecture, to popular films about college life, Dolmage argues that disability is central to higher education, and that building more inclusive schools allows better education for all.

30 review for Academic Ableism: Disability and Higher Education

  1. 5 out of 5

    Psyche Ready

    Just read it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Imogen

    Excellent. This book and its findings will be with me for a long time.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Brynne

    Excellent book and extremely eye-opening. My sole criticism is that the author uses Jack Halberstam’s deadname when citing him (which is done only once), and while Halberstam isn’t too particular about what name people use for him (see his blog post "On Pronouns" for more details), it doesn’t send the greatest message. Still very much worth your time, especially the last chapter's discussion of how popular media represents disability in collegiate settings. This should be required reading for all Excellent book and extremely eye-opening. My sole criticism is that the author uses Jack Halberstam’s deadname when citing him (which is done only once), and while Halberstam isn’t too particular about what name people use for him (see his blog post "On Pronouns" for more details), it doesn’t send the greatest message. Still very much worth your time, especially the last chapter's discussion of how popular media represents disability in collegiate settings. This should be required reading for all university faculty/staff.

  4. 5 out of 5

    mads

    Excellent introduction to both ableism and academia history/ maintenance of ableism. Definitely geared towards an academic audience so some of the language requires a dictionary

  5. 5 out of 5

    Erica

    Being a differently abled (a term I learned from this book as a wonderful replacement for the rhetorically negated “disabled”) academic, I was very interested in this book. After finishing, I think it should be required reading for every university employee. The author takes an intersectional approach that probes the depths of ableim. He connects perceptions of disability to the disenfranchisement of BIPOC, women, LGBTQ people, and other marginalized groups who have been connected to “feeble min Being a differently abled (a term I learned from this book as a wonderful replacement for the rhetorically negated “disabled”) academic, I was very interested in this book. After finishing, I think it should be required reading for every university employee. The author takes an intersectional approach that probes the depths of ableim. He connects perceptions of disability to the disenfranchisement of BIPOC, women, LGBTQ people, and other marginalized groups who have been connected to “feeble mindedness” and “biological inferiority” by eugenics, a subject still taught in universities today. The author takes off the gloves and explores the appalling history of the academy’s role in eugenics research, in which white colonialists experimented on indigenous peoples and other disadvantaged groups under the guise of science. There is more than a whiff of objectification in a culture in which those with physical, mental and developmental disabilities are the objects of study for professors more often than they themselves are the professors. The author also does an excellent job probing the toxic rhetoric of ableism, and deconstructing the myth that inclusive space only exists in the static physical realm rather than being a dynamic place where bodies, emotions, ideas, and prejudices move. There is far more to inclusivity than ramps and assistive technology. In short, this book pulls back the veil on an underexplored topic that encircles and is intertwined with all people who represent the other; the “objects” of diversity and inclusion initiatives more often than the recipients. From critiquing HR practices to limited pedagogical modalities, probing the “universality” of universal design and the psychological affect of space, this book contains many welcome insights that well-meaning people, including myself, are unwittingly shielded from by the dominant culture. The very architectural styles favored by universities even get a critical eye as symbols of oppression: the mountainous staircases and ornate gates that lead to the ivory tower are literal and figurative barriers far too often accessible only to the privileged few, rather than to the diverse multitudes.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Paul Eaton

    This is an important text for any critical scholar. It’s strength lies in framing disability in the academy as a historical and ongoing construction. It also ties ableist discourses and rhetoric to other systemic issues such as racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and eugenic ideology. This book will not offer you many solutions, but will open space for grappling with the complexity of ableism on campus.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa Chrisman

    This book is clear and has reshaped my perspective on education and disability. Although this book focuses on higher education, many of its concepts can also be applied to the K-12 school system. I recommend that everyone involved in education read this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Anna R. Myers

    This book was so informative and hopeful about the future of academia, it also described to a T my current experience with academia. I think the author did an amazing job at exploring academia and it's problems but also where it can improve in the future. This book was so informative and hopeful about the future of academia, it also described to a T my current experience with academia. I think the author did an amazing job at exploring academia and it's problems but also where it can improve in the future.

  9. 4 out of 5

    narmada

    I will reread this

  10. 4 out of 5

    Megan Cartier

    Must read for educators.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lariisa Stewart

    Fantastically written insights into ableism in higher education. This text should be considered foundational for anyone interested in disability in academia.

  12. 5 out of 5

    emma pawz clawz

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Politzer-Ahles

  14. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Rewis

  15. 5 out of 5

    Amy French

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alison

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lesley

  18. 4 out of 5

    Josiane Stratis

  19. 4 out of 5

    Heather Boyd

  20. 4 out of 5

    Vee

  21. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

  22. 4 out of 5

    E Krebs

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lee Ann

  24. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Godfrey-Meers

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

  29. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Fink

  30. 5 out of 5

    Julia Low

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