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‘How dare you say that about my friend’: negotiating disability and identity within Australian high schools

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Australian education policies advocate equal opportunities and non-discrimination through legislation that people with disabilities willing to attend ‘main-stream’ schools must be accommodated for. In this paper, people with mobility disabilities talk about their high school experiences in New South Wales, Australia. We are particularly interested in how these men and women talk about the affirmation of bodily differences within various high school spaces. Adopting narrative analysis and a feminist approach we understand identity as constructed spatially. Our interpretation is focused upon how school spaces helped to shape participants’ sense of self and in turn how participants shaped school spaces. We present a series of vignettes which illustrate how participants with mobility disabilities negotiated their bodily differences in and through school space.
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Keywords: Australia; Disability; exclusion; inclusion; narratives; school

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences,University of Wollongong, Australia 2: School of Social Sciences and Psychology,University of Western Sydney, Australia

Publication date: 2012-12-01

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