LSJ/CHID 332, Spring 2009
Disability and Society: Introduction to Disability Studies
ESSAY #1: The social model of disability
Due: Sunday, April 19, 11pm
Length: 2 pages, double-spaced
Due: Sunday, May 3, 11pm
Length: 3 pages, double-spaced
of the disability community believe that as a group they have been
discriminated against and stigmatized because of public policies,
socio-economic structures, cultural attitudes, and popular stereotypes about
disability. Identify and discuss two or more specific examples of these
oppressive practices and beliefs. How does the individual interpretation of
disability (i.e. the medical, moral, and tragedy models) help with analyzing
these particular ways that disabled people have been denied the right to live
in the world? What arguments have been put forward and what actions have been
taken by people in the
Link to a sample portfolio demonstrating the suggested format. This was created with Catalyst Portfolio Builder; you could also use SimpleSite or other tools to create your website.
MEDIA PROJECT: How is disability represented in our culture?
DUE: Sunday, May 17, 11pm
Submit your portfolio URL to the course dropbox: https://catalysttools.washington.edu/collectit/dropbox/jwoiak/5438/
Overview of the project: Each student will research various kinds of media sources that depict disability, choose 3 media items, write interpretations of them, and present the completed work in an online portfolio. It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with the Catalyst Portfolio or SimpleSite tools needed to create a well-designed portfolio to display your findings. Your project will be evaluated for how complete and sophisticated your analysis is using the disability studies framework, and how well you incorporate relevant material from the course readings. Your grade will also take into account how original and interesting your chosen items are and how readable your portfolio is.
Your project must include:
· One "historical" media item, dating from before 1980.
· One contemporary work of fiction, e.g. movie, TV show, short story, piece of artwork.
· One contemporary non-fiction media text, e.g. news report, advert, blog, biography.
The completed portfolio must have 3 pages and include all of these on each page:
· A copy of the media item (or an image or segment from it, or a link to its web location).
· A brief written description of what the item is, where it came from, etc.
· A written analysis interpreting the item. Your description and interpretation of each item must be the equivalent of an essay at least one single-spaced page long. In each essay, examine your item through the lens of the disability studies approach, focusing on the individual vs. social models, and issues such as stereotyping, ableism, identity, etc.
· Appropriate references to specific material from the course readings that you use to support your interpretations and arguments. Use proper citations.
Preliminary feedback: You must submit one of your media items and your preliminary interpretations of it, on Sunday April 26, 11pm. Submit a Word document that includes a copy of the item itself and your commentary. Upload these to the assignments dropbox. The instructors will respond with suggestions that should be helpful for completing the project.
Media items or "artifacts": Disability is everywhere in our culture and everyday life, once you know to look for it. Each of you will collect a total of 3 media depictions of disability. Consider these items as "texts" consisting of words, images, or objects. It's your job to interpret their meaning and significance. As you engage in your everyday media consumption, be aware of the disability content of items such as blogs, online magazines, news reports, TV shows, movies, books, advertisements, cartoons, visual or performance art, etc. The course readings will give you more examples of what to look for. Keep in mind that one item must have been produced some time before 1980. Be original. Don't select all mass media items and hero/pity stories. Seek
out some alternative sources that depict disability in progressive or ambiguous ways. Aim for a mix of sources and complex messages.
Objectives and interpretations: The goal of this project is to explore how disability tends to be portrayed in different media and for what variety of purposes. Your interpretations must utilize the disability studies approach you're learning in this course. In your chosen media items, what "stories" are told and by whom? Whose perspectives and experiences are represented, whose are not? What audiences read these texts, and how do they interpret them? What are the predominant messages, images, stereotypes, etc.? What do these tell us about the relationship between disability and society? What kinds of alternative representations emerge when the voices of disabled people themselves are heard? Do the necessary background research and answer the following questions about each media item you've selected:
· Who produced it, for whom, and why?
· Where was it produced, where was it found?
· Whose voices are heard, whose are not?
· What message(s) about disability does it convey and how?
· How can it be interpreted using the individual and/or social models of disability?
· Does it succeed in its aims? Is it a favorable, harmful, or ambiguous representation?
· Does it mean different things to different audiences?
URLs for media projects
Here are the media projects I received. Enjoy! (Word doc).
Architectural accessibility survey
Checklist (pdf format) with ADA guidelines for architectural accessibility. Download the form, print, fill out while you survey the building, and submit to dropbox on May 31.
Peer evaluation form (Word doc) to be completed by each student confidentially. Completion will count towards your participation grade. Submit this to your dropbox on May 31.
Assignment handout in Word
ARCHITECTURAL ACCESSIBILITY SURVEY (group project)
DUE: Sunday, May 31, 11pm, all components to be submitted to the assignment dropbox
Value: 10% (group grade for the whole project)
Part 1 (week 6): Choose or be assigned to groups and buildings.
Part 2 (weeks 7-8, outside of class time): Survey a campus building.
Part 3 (May 31): Submit as a group your final report in the form of a 2-page letter summing up
and critically analyzing your findings using the disability studies approach.
Part 4 (May 31): Submit as a group your completed accessibility checklist.
Part 5 (May 31): Each member of the group submit a peer evaluation form.
Assignment: Conduct an architectural accessibility survey of a University of Washington building, using the Americans with Disabilities Act compliance guidelines. You will work in groups of 4 students, which will be assigned on May 7. You may create your own groups if you choose; let the instructors know that you have a group by May 5. By May 10, each group must select a building to assess for accessibility. First come, first servedno duplicates. Students are responsible for the participation or lack thereof of their fellow group members, so be sure to negotiate at the beginning the duties and expectations of all members. Each student must hand in a peer evaluation form describing what each member of the group contributed to the project.
Survey of the building's features: Do not begin this project until your building choice has been approved and you have been given the packet of federal accessibility survey forms appropriate for government facilities such as those on campus. You must fill out this checklist completely while you do the survey and turn it in with your final report. Review the forms before you start evaluating the building, so that you know in advance what to look for. Take with you tape measures and a camera if you choose. Remember to be as unobtrusive as possible, so as not to disturb classes or staff. If you can't get into an area, note that on your checklist.
In addition to the structures on the checklist such as ramps, elevators, and rest rooms, look for particular features in classrooms and elsewhere that would affect ability to learn and/or teach. The federal forms emphasize mobility and sensory disabilities and specify certain physical requirements, but you should also think of other factors that could make a space "disabling" for some people and "enabling" for others. How and why do certain features of the building privilege certain types of bodies? Are there safety, ventilation, or navigation issues that affect everyone? You are expected to pay attention to both the tangible aspects of accessibility and the intangible aspects such as those discussed in the Mutua and Sierra-Zarella readings for May 12. You should be thinking about what the features and barriers you found signify about society's and the University's attitudes towards disability. How do people's interactions with the built environment construct the category of disability?
Analysis (due May
31): Report your findings and your recommendations for improvements to your
building by composing a 2-page, single-spaced, business letter. The letter must
be formally addressed to the building facilities coordinator and the
administrative heads of any departments
Keep in mind that you want the University authorities to read your letter, understand your points, and take your concerns seriously. Proofread your letter carefully and be clear and concise. Explain why you are writing to them, and try to present some positive and encouraging findings along with your criticisms.
A substantial portion of the
letter should be devoted to analyzing your findings using the framework of the
social model of disability. Explain to your readers (who are probably not
experts in disability studies) why accessibility is such an important concern,
and what your findings about the design of certain features reveal about
disability as a social phenomenon. Discuss how the space does or does not represent the "majority"
culture, and how welcoming the building is to others including individuals with
Additional scholarly sources you can use for this essay
Due: Tuesday, June 9, 11pm
Length: 3-4 pages, double-spaced
1. How can this topic be analyzed through the lens of the individual model of disability? How can it be analyzed through the lens of the social model of disability? What are the main differences between the arguments made from these two perspectives?
2. In what ways does this topic bring to light the strengths and weaknesses of the models of disability?
3. How would you answer the question "what is disability?" in the context of your analysis of this topic?
Topics for essay
#3 (choose one):
1. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Americans with Disabilities Act as civil rights
of life decisions (known as assisted suicide or death with dignity)?
US disability rights movement?
difference such as race and ethnicity, class, gender, or sexuality?
a specific historical period or development such as the eugenics movement.
the use of assistive technologies and/or medical interventions?
7. What is "disability culture"? Discuss specific cultural events or works.
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Last modified: 6/01/2009 10:02 PM