This article aims to reorient thinking about the relationship between the long-standing social model of disability and the rapidly emerging human rights model. In particular, it contests the influential view that the latter develops and improves upon the former (the improvement thesis) and argues instead that the two models are complementary (the complementarity thesis). The article begins with a discursive analysis of relevant documents to investigate how each of the two models has been used in the crafting and monitoring of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This highlights the increasing importance of the human rights model in this policy context. It also provides examples of the operation of the two models which inform the remainder of the discussion. We then critique the comparisons between the models which underpin the improvement thesis; and, drawing on Foucault’s technologies of power and Beckett and Campbell’s ‘oppositional device’ methodology, deepen and develop this comparative analysis. The result, we argue, is that the two models have different subjects and different functions. In the human rights context, their roles are complementary and supportive.
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The on-going struggles of disability movements worldwide have been examined from multiple perspectives. As of yet, however, research into this topic has largely overlooked experiences on the African continent. This article seeks to address this gap by presenting a case study of the disability movement in Sierra Leone, West Africa. The study finds that on the one hand the Sierra Leonean disability movement is fragmented (referring to the tendency of groups to work individually as opposed to operating in a collective manner), thus limiting synergy. Three main ‘centrifugal’ forces underlying fragmentation are identified: resource scarcity, impairment specific interests and capacity differences between impairment types. On the other hand, the movement somehow manages to survive and even achieve modest successes. The research shows that interdependence, shared experiences of marginalization, and a clear identification of the ‘other’ have a unifying effect.
- The disability movement in Sierra Leone is fragmented, meaning it struggles to formulate a unified position and act collectively, yet somehow survives and even manages to achieve some successes;
- The fragmentation is fueled by competition between groups, a hierarchy between impairment types and interests that are impairment specific.
- The movement is kept together by mutual dependence to achieve key goals and raise funds, shared experiences of marginalization and negative experiences with ‘outsiders’.
- The research offers recommendations to disability groups and donors to mitigate fragmenting forces while strengthening unifying forces.
This study investigates loneliness in life stories by people with disabilities. By approaching loneliness from a relational perspective, this study attempts to illustrate how loneliness and disability are intertwined in the life course. The research question was as follows: How do people with disabilities understand loneliness in their life stories? Life story data ‘Life of Disabled Persons in Finland 2013–2014’ was analysed with a narrative life course approach. Loneliness was narrated in accordance with normative life course expectations. People with disabilities narrated loneliness as unbelonging in childhood, disjointed youth and disaffiliation to normative institutions in adulthood. This study suggests that relation between loneliness and disability concern the conditions of inclusion that is the conditions of living and telling.
- Loneliness involves both unwanted emotions and social isolation.
- In many societies, both loneliness and disability bear a stigma. This so-called double stigma affects the lives of people with disabilities.
- This study explores loneliness and disability in life stories by people with disabilities in Finland from a life course perspective. Although scholars have widely studied loneliness in Finland, they have not studied loneliness in people with disabilities in any great depth.
- Loneliness in life stories by people with disabilities was narrated in relation to a sense of bodily difference and occurred as a disconnection from a socially ‘standard’ life course. Loneliness was located within three main phases: childhood, youth and adulthood. Negative attitudes towards disability feed social isolation and emotional loneliness.
- Further research on disability and loneliness throughout the life course as well as more discussion about the conditions of inclusion and the emotional patterns of social relations are needed.
Care robots are machines, operating partly or completely autonomously, that are intended to assist older people and their caregivers. Care robots are seen as one part of the solution to the aging population, allowing fewer professional caregivers to provide the necessary assistance and care. Despite the potential benefits, the dissemination of care robots, and welfare technology in general, is limited in Swedish elder care.
To explore the challenges of introducing welfare technology, particularly care robots, in elder care.
Materials and methods:
Twenty-one individual interviews with key actors at the societal level, analysed by thematic analysis.
The challenges, from the societal actors’ perspectives, were related to; the beliefs in technology, attitudes, ethics, collaboration, and the need for knowledge and skills regarding care robots (individual and group challenges). Challenges of a national character were: national governance, infrastructure, laws and regulations, economics, and procurement (systemic and societal challenges). In addition, the necessary preconditions for successful introduction were revealed as: the utility of the technology, implementation, evaluation and safety, security, and integrity (preconditional challenges).
The introduction of care robots in elder care services seems to be more challenging than that of welfare technology in general, given the context and prevailing attitudes and preconceptions about robotics. Significant challenges need to be managed, at all levels of the society, before care robots can become an integral part of daily care and assist older people and their caregivers in activities and rehabilitation.
The aim of this study was to identify factors that influence the perceived stigma of two assistive devices for visual impairment, namely the white cane and smart glasses.
Face-to-face semi-structured interviews with eight European students were conducted to probe their experiences and knowledge related to disability, assistive technology, visual impairment, as well as handheld and wearable devices.
Close relationships with disabled people seems to have a positive influence on participants perceptions about stigma, disability, and assistive technology. Academic background seems to not have any influence. The aesthetics of assistive devices was observed as an important factor that influences the adoption or abandonment of the device.
Device without negative symbolism but with modern aesthetics (smart glasses) were positively accepted by the participants than the device with traditional aesthetics and symbolisms of visual impairment (white cane). Designers should, therefore, consider aesthetics in addition to functionality in order to avoid the perceived stigma, thereby reducing the chances of device abandonment.
Notions of family life and romantic partnership, like notions of disability, have been culturally constructed and socially produced over historical time, and our understandings of these notions are being continually challenged and re-negotiated across time and space. Policies, institutions, and cultural practices across the globe have brought about changes to the construction of the family and to the rights and inclusion of disabled people in private and public life. This special issue brings together a collection of studies from different countries and time periods to explore the interplay between disability, romantic partnerships, and family life across the individual lifetime and between generations. With this interdisciplinary collection, we seek to merge disability research and research on family and partnerships through a life course lens. This offers unique insights and opportunities to interconnect his- torical and cultural location and changing social institutions with individual and family experiences. This introduction presents the eight studies in the collection and discusses them within a life course frame that views disabled people’s roles as partners, spouses, and members of a family. In so doing, it engages in an analysis of (dis)similarities concerning how family dynamics, romantic relationships, and disability have developed over time and in different spaces.
Background: Plaster of Paris (POP) is being used in different ways in the field of medicine, dentistry and rehabilitation. One of its uses is in the manufacture of models of body segments in prosthetics and orthotics. It is used as a one-off procedure in which the used material is dismantled and discarded. The disposal of discarded materials does not allow easy decomposition which then pollutes the environment. It is not known whether this material could be reused if recycled.
Objectives: The main objective of the study was to recycle POP models and determine its reuse in producing models with identical qualities, and thus reduce environmental pollution.
Method: The procedure adopted was to break discarded models into small pieces, remove impurities and dirt; then the sample models were milled, washed, dried and pulverised. The POP models were heated to evaporate crystalline water in order to determine for how many times it could be recycled while retaining the desired strength, setting time and working characteristics.
Results: The recycled POP reached higher setting temperatures and was stronger in terms of compressive strain and strength than the virgin POP. The highest temperature recorded for recycled POP was 40°C, which was higher than that for virgin powder (32.5°C). Testing compressive strength of all cylinders in all groups showed that the average compressive strength of the recycled powder mixed with water in a ratio of 1:1 was 2407 KN/m² and the ratio of 2:3 resulted in a compressive strength of 1028 KN/m², whereas the average compressive strength of virgin POP powder mixed with water in a ratio of 1:1 was 1807 KN/m² and the ratio of 2:3 resulted in a compressive strength of 798 KN/m². There were no differences in working properties between the recycled POP and the virgin POP.
Conclusion: It was therefore concluded that under controlled conditions, such as grinding size, heating temperature, time and avoidance of contamination, used POP could be continuously recycled, resulting in stronger and workable casts.
African Journal of Disability, Vol. 9, 2020
Background: Despite a global commitment to the right to education for persons with disabilities, little is known about how to achieve inclusive education in practice, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where the majority of the world’s people with disabilities reside. Moreover, although exclusion from education is magnified by intersecting gender and socioeconomic inequalities, there is especially little knowledge regarding what approaches to inclusive education are effective amongst girls with disabilities living in resource-poor settings.
Objectives: The objective of this article was to assess the impact of an inclusive education intervention led by a non-governmental organisation (NGO) on the educational attainment of girls with disabilities in the resource-poor Lakes region of Kenya.
Method: A quasi-experimental design was employed, where the literacy and numeracy educational attainment of the intervention and control groups was compared over two time points a year apart (Time 1 and Time 2; total matched N = 353). During this period, activities pertaining to six core components of a holistic inclusive education model were implemented.
Results: Relative to the control group, girls with disabilities in the intervention group reported a greater increase in literacy and numeracy attainment, adjusted for grade and level of functional difficulty.
Conclusion: Findings suggest that the intervention was successful in engendering additional improvements in the educational attainment of girls with disabilities from the resource-poor Lakes region of Kenya. Results highlight both the applicability of NGO-led interventions in settings, where national implementation of inclusive education is constrained, and the potential of taking such interventions to scale.
African Journal of Disability, Vol 9, 2020
Building on the Salamanca Statement from 1994, the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals 2030 embraces inclusion for children in early childhood education. The European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education in 2015–2017 completed a project on inclusive early childhood education, focusing on structures, processes, and outcomes that ensure a systemic approach to high-quality Inclusive Early Childhood Education (IECE). An ecosystem model of IECE was developed with a self-reflection tool for improving inclusion. This study’s aim was to investigate practitioners’ perspective on the inclusive processes and supportive structures defined in the ecosystem model, to contribute to a deeper understanding of how inclusive practice might be enabled and how barriers for inclusion can be removed. The self-reflection tool was administered in a heterogeneous municipality in Sweden, where inclusive settings are standard. Documentation from approximately 70 teachers on 27 teams was received. The documentation was analysed with qualitative content analysis based on the ecosystem model. The results showed a strong emphasis on group-related processes, whereas data on individual-related processes were scarce. This one-sided focus on the group level might endanger the inclusive processes and outcomes concerning the individual child.
Background: Persons with disabilities are generally at greater risk of experiencing violence than their peers without a disability. Within the sphere of disability, individuals with severe communication disabilities are particularly vulnerable and have an increased risk of being a victim of abuse or violence and typically turn to their country’s criminal justice system to seek justice. Unfortunately, victims with disabilities are often denied fair and equal treatment before the court. Transformative equality should be pursued when identifying accommodations in court for persons with communication disabilities, as the aim should be to enable such individuals to participate equally in court, without barriers and discrimination.
Objectives: This research aimed to identify court accommodations recommended by legal experts, which could assist individuals with severe communication disabilities in the South African court.
Method: A qualitative design was used to conduct a discussion with a panel of legal experts.
Results: Using Article 13 (Access to Justice) of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as a human rights framework, four themes were identified: equality, accommodations, participation and training of professionals.
Conclusion: Foreign and national law clearly prohibits discrimination against persons with communication disabilities because of their disability and state that they should be given fair and equal access to the court system. For transformative equality to be achieved, certain rules and laws need to be changed to include specific accommodations for persons with communication disabilities so that they may be enabled to participate effectively in court in the criminal justice system.
African Journal of Disability, Vol 9, 2020
Background: Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common and most complex disabling disorder in children. Newly qualified therapists are expected to manage CP despite feeling inexperienced and inadequately prepared. Short postgraduate practical training courses could potentially help bridge this readiness gap. However, the value of these short courses in addressing the knowledge and experience gap is unknown.
Objectives: To establish the value of a short practical training course on the self-perceived readiness of newly qualified South African trained therapists to work with children with CP.
Method: Secondary analysis of records on therapists’ immediate evaluation of a short practical training course on CP management was completed. The analysis included records from 11 courses collected over a 2-years period (2015–2017). Paired t-tests were used to determine the change in knowledge in the quantitative questionnaire. Qualitative data were analysed inductively to determine themes.
Results: The majority of therapists had their expectations met by the course. Therapists’ self-perceived level of knowledge about various aspects of CP after the course changed significantly. Therapists appreciated the adult teaching and learning methods, conducive learning environment, the relevant and organised content and holistic approach of the course. They demonstrated readiness to adopt positive attitudes, perceptions and practice following the course.
Conclusion: A short practical postgraduate training course in CP is valuable in addressing the self-perceived lack of readiness amongst therapists with little experience in this area. It is capable of improving the knowledge and changing attitudes, perceptions and practice intentions positively, and thereby potentially improving the quality of service offered to children with CP.
African Journal of Disability, Vol 9, 2020
Diversity is a current buzzword in politics, but in the EU, people with disabilities are not achieving the gains made by women and ethnic minorities. This research examined barriers and facilitating factors through a literature review and interviews with politicians and political activists in five European countries. Six categories of barriers and facilitating factors were found: networks, recruitment and mentoring, resources (money, time and energy), the “hierarchy of impairments,” accessibility of political spaces and activities, and laws and policies. Key recommendations include removing access barriers to political participation, from voting to holding office, including physical and procedural barriers in political spaces; ensuring that equalities legislation covers politicians; eliminating barriers imposed by benefits systems; promoting direct support for political activists, candidates and office-holders with disabilities, including access to necessary services and supports; encouraging parties to recruit and mentor disabled people with leadership potential; and considering quotas and job-sharing.
- Not many disabled people are active in politics. In the EU, about 15% of people have an impairment, but only around 1% of politicians do.
- Inclusion at school and in social groups makes it easier to get into political jobs or to try to get elected.
- Some disabled political activists, volunteers, candidates and office-holders don’t get the support they need.
- Political parties can help by finding disabled people, supporting them, and helping them get involved in politics.
- Our article provides several ideas about how to make it easier for disabled people to run for office and work in politics.
This paper describes international actions to collaborate in the assistive technology (AT) arena and provides an update of programmes supporting AT globally.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) identifies the severe global uneven distribution of resources, expertise and extensive unmet need for AT, as well the optimistic substantial capability for innovations and developments in appropriate and sustainable AT design, development and delivery. Systems thinking and market shaping are identified as means to address these challenges and leverage the ingenuity and expertise of AT stakeholders.
This paper is a ‘call to action’, showcasing emerging AT networks as exemplars of a distributed, but integrated mechanism for addressing AT needs globally, and describing the Global Alliance of Assistive Technology Organisations (GAATO) as a vehicle to facilitate this global networking.
Partners in this Global Alliance aim to advance the field of assistive technology by promoting shared research, policy advocacy, educating people and organisations within and outside the field, teaching, training and knowledge transfer by pulling together broad-based membership organisations.
Fostering equity by offering the best education possible to all students is one of the main goals of inclusive schooling. One instrument to implement individualised education is individualised education planning (IEP). IEP requires cooperation between special and regular teachers. From research on school leadership it is known that leadership styles are connected to the way, school leaders use their scope of action with respect to fostering collaboration. However, little is known about the relationship between the leadership of a school, the provision of structures for collaboration, and the implementation of IEP in an inclusive context. The article focuses on the question to what extent transformational (TL) and instructional leadership (IL) are connected to the provision of structures for collaboration and how TL and IL as well as structures for collaboration relate to the implementation of IEP directly and indirectly. Based on data of N = 135 German schools, a path model was calculated. It revealed medium relations between TL, IL, and structures for collaboration as well as a medium effect from structures to collaboration on implementation of IEP. The effect from TL towards implementation of IEP was fully mediated by structures for collaboration, while the effect from IL persisted.
Background: Stroke in human immunodeficiency virus positive (HIV+) individuals is becoming an increasing concern. Being significantly younger than typical stroke patients, the impact of functional challenges on quality of life and burden on society becomes more eminent.
Objectives: This feasibility study aims to determine the requirements for a large descriptive cohort, to adequately describe the functional outcome of stroke patients with varying HIV status.
Method: All stroke patients meeting the inclusion criteria were recruited over a 6-month period at a South African inpatient rehabilitation centre. Data were collected on admission and discharge using outcome measures including the Barthel Index (BI), Berg Balance Scale (BBS) and the use of assistive devices used to describe independence with activities of daily living (ADL), mobility and safety post-stroke. Statistical analysis was performed using Stata version 14.2.
Results: The feasibility study identified appropriate procedures and barriers to a successful study in addition to describing preliminary data on participant demographics, relevant medical history and functional outcomes post-stroke. Limitations that affected feasibility included minimal recruitment sites, length of data collection period, timely communication of participant discharge plans and dates, and confirmation of participant HIV status. An appropriate comparison between sub-groups could not be made because of disproportionate group sizes, median age differences and no assessor blinding.
Conclusion: To increase generalisability and the understanding of the unique HIV+ stroke profile, multiple recruitment sites, longer data collection periods, assessor blinding and age-matched groups with HIV status confirmation are recommended.
African Journal of Disability, Vol 9, 2020
Compulsory distance education has always sought to be inclusive, providing educational opportunities for K-12 students unable to attend mainstream, face-to-face schools for medical, geographical, or personal reasons. However, how to effectively engage these diverse learners has remained a perpetual challenge, with a need for further investigation into the nature of student engagement with compulsory school distance contexts and how teachers can best support it. This qualitative study used focus groups (n=2 groups, n=16 participants) to examine teacher definitions and student engagement strategies within eKindy-12 distance education in Queensland, Australia. Categorical analysis was conducted using a priori codes for definitions, focusing on four previously established engagement types (i.e. behavioural, emotional, cognitive, and agentic engagement), and in vivo codes for strategies. Teacher definitions focused strongly on behavioural engagement, but most also contained elements of emotional and cognitive engagement; agentic engagement was only occasionally evidenced via practice descriptions. Teachers described engaging students by: building relationships, creating a safe classroom environment through differentiation, using inclusive technological tools to facilitate interaction and monitor progress, making learning fun and relevant, drawing on school-wide pedagogical frameworks and teaching strategies, and encourage self-regulation. Findings suggest distance education teachers face unique challenges around evidencing engagement and supporting student agency.
This article critically examines user-involvement in the service delivery process for assistive activity technology.
Data were collected in semi-structured interviews with 44 end users of assistive activity technology and in focus group interviews with 11 professionals at Norway’s Assistive Technology Centre. Data was analysed according to a stepwise deductive–inductive approach.
Flawed organisational principles like division of responsibility, unclear regulations, and a lack of competence with assistive activity technology among service professionals have hindered user involvement in the service delivery process.
A missing knowledge of assistive activity technology among professionals and the current organisation of services creates barriers for a positive collaboration with users in the service delivery process of assistive activity technology.
Background: This research is part of a larger project on the exploration of inequalities in South African higher education. This current study focussed on the implementation of policies to eradicate inequalities in an inclusive education system.
Objectives: This article aimed to establish the implementation of policy by researching the lived experiences of students with specific learning disabilities (SLDs) studying in the university.
Method: A qualitative, systematic review was employed as the research methodology. Original peer-reviewed qualitative studies published between 1994 and 2017 were systematically reviewed. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) was used to ensure rigorous reviews. The Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) was used to guide the process of critical appraisal of the selected articles which resulted in a total of 10 articles being selected for reviewing. The target population of this research comprised undergraduate students diagnosed with SLD. Semi-structured interviews were the main data collection tools used in the studies that were reviewed. Data from the selected articles were extracted and synthesised.
Results: The dominant themes that emerged from the review were: (1) fear of stigmatisation; (2) gaps in policy implementation; (3) experiences vary across departments; and (4) self-determination and family support as success factors.
Conclusion: An important aspect in the transformation of higher education institution is to ensure the closing of the disjuncture between policy and implementation in support of students with SLD.
African Journal of Disability, Vol 9, 2020
Background: Prior to 1994, special education in South Africa was marginalised and fragmented; therefore, the new democratic government promoted inclusive education as a means to transform education in general and diverse education in particular. However, transformation in diverse education is seemingly moving forward at a snail’s pace – too slow to benefit all learners experiencing barriers to learning and development.
Objectives: This article serves a dual purpose: firstly, to apply a bio-ecological approach to highlight the historic development of diverse education and, secondly, to explore the interactive processes within the systemic levels in the South African education system, which affects the learner on the person dimension of the bio-ecological approach.
Method: A document analysis approach was utilised to collect information by exploring a large body of research literature, which included academic articles, reports, policies and policy reviews. Data were categorised within the systems of the bio-ecological model to determine successes and challenges at each level.
Results: Results from the bio-ecological systems analysis of related literature revealed not only many successes but also many challenges that inhibit change, growth and development in the South African education system, even more so for children experiencing barriers to learning.
Conclusion: The transformation process of change from what was to what should be, regarding diverse education, seems to be stuck at what is and not moving forward to what could be. It has not transformed significantly enough to fill the gap between reality and the envisaged aim or dream of quality education for all.
African Journal of Disability, Vol 9, 2020
Background: Inclusive education envisages the improvement of the quality of education for all learners. This further implies that schools must adjust all systems of teaching and learning to accommodate all learners regardless of their diverse needs. The reduction of educational inequalities through inclusive practices is aimed at supporting the accomplishment of academic outcomes for all. Learners presenting with neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) place specific requirements on teachers, particularly when they find themselves in mainstream classrooms.
Objectives: This study focused on the learning support strategies used by recently qualified teachers in accommodating learners with NDDs in mainstream classrooms in the Gauteng province of South Africa.
Method: A qualitative approach was used to explore the support strategies used by recently qualified teachers in mainstream classrooms when dealing with learners with NDDs. Purposive sampling was used to select six recently qualified teachers from different mainstream classroom. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews, observations and critical incident reports.
Results: The findings revealed that teachers employ a variety of support strategies such as cooperative learning, peer learning, ability grouping, extensive visual aids and curriculum differentiation in an attempt to support learners. The support provided by the teachers was evident in their performance as learners with NDD were able to learn and understand the lessons irrespective for their barrier to learning.
Conclusion: Contrary to literature findings that teachers do not support learners with diverse needs because of lack of skills, training and knowledge, this study revealed that recently qualified teachers employ a variety of support strategies to support learners with NDDs. However, it appeared that these support strategies were rather general teaching and learning strategies. More support strategies should be applied to help learners with NDD in the mainstream classroom.
African Journal of Disability, Vol 9, 2020