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COVID-19 in South Asia: State practices, responses and the experiences of persons with disability within the region

MEHROTRA, Nilika
SOLDATIC, Karen
2021

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An introduction into South Asia looking at the pandemic who people are struggling with in 2020. The DGS has aimed to first identify and acknowledge the diversity of disability experiences in the Global South and, second, make these experiences readily available and accessible to disabled people and their communities in the regions where the contributors themselves are from. In fact, in undertaking this special issue as editors, we would like to recognize the incredible persistence of our contributors to continue to work with us throughout the development of the papers, alongside acknowledging the many original contributors who were also unable to accept our invitation to participate because of the covid19 pandemic impacts upon every aspect of their lives.

When differences are made into likenesses: the normative documentation and assessment culture of the preschool

KARLSUDD, Peter
2021

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This article is based on studies carried out within the Young children’s learning research education programme. This undertaking involved five graduate students, all recruited from the Swedish preschool system. The licentiate thesis makes up the final product of their education programme, and the focus of each candidate’s licentiate thesis was preschool-level documentation. Using the results of all five theses, a re-analysis was conducted with the concept of normality as the common starting point. The purpose was to investigate whether documentation and assessment can change the view of normality in preschools, and furthermore, what consequences there may be for preschool activity. ‘The narrow preschool and the wide preschool’ is the model used to support the analysis, which is a model used in previous studies to review and discuss educational choices and conditions in the school system. Results of the present investigation show that the documents and assessments performed in preschool have a strong focus on the individual child and a traditional, school-oriented learning is highly valued. The documentation and assessment practices that take place now in our preschools, therefore, most likely influence the preschool view of normality and restrict the acceptance of differences.

Emergent Disability voices on Social Media during COVID -19 times

MEHROTRA, Nilika
2021

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Persons with disabilities are invisible and almost silent in the Indian media. This paper examines the emergence of articulate expressions of persons with disabilities (pwd) in the social media over the months March to June 2020 during COVID Lockdown. While technology has been seen as a great leveller for persons with disabilities, the digital divide, however, remains very real for masses of disabled persons, whereby it is largely the educated middle class who have access to internet facilities and presence on social media. This paper draws from observation and analysis of posts on Facebook by different categories of persons with disabilities. There appear to be a number of discourses emerging and imageries running almost parallel. Accessibility and support appear to be very important issues especially in terms of access to domestic workers, regular medical checkups, and procuring daily provisions as well as access to online teaching. On the other hand, little concern is being paid to the huge humanitarian crisis of returnee workers from cities to villages. Interestingly, disabled persons appeared more connected, participating in discussions and Webinars and voicing out their experiences with greater clarity and also analysing the COVID situation through Disability Studies (DS) perspectives.

Uncertain Personhood: Notes on Ageing and Disability in Guwahati During COVID 19

BEZBARUAH, Vaijayanti
2021

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The circumstantial understanding of the ‘normal’, ushered in by the spread of COVID 19, has been the practice of ‘social distancing’. Exercising this ‘new normal’ has been a challenge in general for society. However, it is particularly important to recognize the psycho-social impact and analyse it through the lens of ageing in relation to experiences of disability. This paper therefore attempts to explore the experiences of uncertainties in the light of ageing with disabilities, pronounced during a time of crisis, leading to social distress. With the help of telephonic conversations, the paper discusses some of the stories of people living in Guwahati, in the age-group of 70 to 90, drawing on an intersectional understanding of personhood, social suffering, and symbolic disability. It is also an attempt to look into the aspect of wellbeing (physical, psychological and emotional) of the elderly amidst disabilities, while stepping into unfamiliar social boundaries of ambiguity, that further disable the elderly in terms of the sudden fading of the regular support structures and systematic foundations of the ‘social’ once known to them.

Mental health of LGBTIQ+ people in India during the COVID 19 pandemic: risks, access, lessons

TENNETI, Suchaita
2021

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The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated containment measures have resulted in a mental health crisis globally. Marginalised populations have been disproportionately affected during the pandemic with an aggravation of existing inequalities, and this has increased the risks to their mental health. The LGBTIQ+ population is among those marginalised whose lives have been rendered even more precarious than before by the pandemic. This paper explores some of the main risks to the mental health of LGBTIQ+ people in India, the advice being given to them by mental health professionals and activists, and need for queer revisionings of uncertainty, the concept of a future and individualism.

Psychosocial Consequences of COVID-19 on Persons with Visual Impairments

NAYAR, Mahima
JUVVA, Srilatha
LAKSHMAN, Chitra
2021

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The ongoing pandemic situation has disrupted lives globally. These disruptions are embodied in gender, social location, ethnicity and in the body. Public health facilities, accessibility of urban infrastructure, support services for persons with disability, educational accessibility in cities prior to the pandemic have influenced the manner in which disabled people are able to adapt to the current situation. This paper presents the experiences of young people living with visual impairments who reside in an urban low-income community in India. It explores the unique challenges such as the further reduction in accessibility to health and educational facilities that they are facing and the manner in which their carefully structured everyday lives have changed. The narratives also describe the manner in which they are coping with the public health disaster in addition to preparing for the new ‘norms’ that people living with visual impairments are required to navigate as an outcome of the pandemic. The paper gives voice to their needs and requirements in this situation, and in turn, aims to inform policy responses through first person accounts. 

Making themselves heard: deaf people in India during the global COVID-19 pandemic

GULYANI, Ritika
2021

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The onset of the sudden and global pandemic, COVID-19, has forced all of us to change our ways of living and interacting with the outside world. Additionally, a lot of restrictions on movement mandated by governments have also been issued in the past few months. In the context of India, a nationwide lockdown was in place from midmarch till the end of May. These lock-downs have had serious consequences for various segments of the population across the country, especially, those on the margins, who are vulnerable and/or in a minority. One such segment has been the disabled population. This paper, with the help of narratives, addresses the challenges faced by the deaf population during the COVID crisis and the ways in which they have negotiated these. There has been a big void in the dissemination of information to the deaf, owing to the fact that the majority of information from official sources has not been translated into sign language. More so, in times when information is the key to maintaining proper health care, this is a big lacuna. Additionally, the paper will also talk about the role of technology as well as of deaf groups in the lives of deaf people, and how it has proved to be very helpful to not just spread proper awareness about the pandemic, but also in trying to build up a movement in trying to recognise Indian Sign Language as the 23rd Official Language of India. 

COVID-19 and State Responses in Pakistan’s Policy towards Persons with Disabilities

ORAKZAI, Saira Bano
2021

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The outbreak of COVID-19 has initiated debate in the world about the response mechanism towards different communities in society. Pandemics have a long history in human societies, changing not only human behavior but also world politics. The Russian flu of 1889, the Spanish flu of 1918, the polio pandemic of 1949, H2N2 virus, 1956, HIV/AIDS 1981, Swine flu 2001, SARS 2002 among others have caused millions of deaths in contemporary recorded history. This paper examines Pakistan’s response mechanisms for persons with disabilities through an analysis of relevant policy documents, UN guidelines and content analysis of key speeches by the Prime Minister Imran Khan, interviews and initiatives taken by the government. The paper concludes that in the absence of any definitive policy for persons with disabilities during COVID19, there has been a general ignorance and apathy towards the way persons with disabilities were given care or in dealing with them during the lockdown situation. As the COVID-19 second wave started in different parts of the world, it is time for the government to take substantive measures to ease problems faced by persons with disabilities. 

COVID-19 from the margins: Gendered-Disability experiences in Sri Lanka

KANDASAMY, Niro
PERERA, Binendri
SOLDATIC, Karen
2021

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Recent research in the global South has highlighted that persons with disabilities are a vulnerable category of persons during the COVID19 outbreak. This paper provides some preliminary insights into Sri Lankan government responses to the outbreak, which, as we will be highlighting, take an ableist approach that further neglect the interests of persons with disabilities while entrenching disability dependencies on informal structures of familial and household support and in turn, increasing their marginality and economic insecurity. The COVID-19 outbreak hit Sri Lanka during a period of political turmoil – national Parliament had been dissolved on 3 March 2020 with elections initially called for 25 April 2020, six months prior to the official end of the Government’s elected term. Drawing upon rapid interview narratives, we present the lived experiences of two women with disabilities and the unique challenges they are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we write this paper in September 2020, we acknowledge that the longer-term impacts of COVID-19 will not become immediately visible, particularly for disabled people from ethno-religious minority groups, including those residing within the former conflict zones.

COVID 19 in Nepal: The Impact on Indigenous Peoples and Persons with Disabilities

GURUNG, Pratima
2021

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The COVID 19 pandemic crisis is unfolding against the backdrop of several important milestones for equality and the human rights of various marginalized groups including women and girls, indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities in all their diversities and intersections in Nepal. The COVID-19 pandemic has entrenched systemic gaps, underlying structural inequalities and pervasive discrimination, more visible with inadequate healthcare, access to information, employment and livelihoods, and social protection system mainly for marginalized groups. This study aims to understand the challenges and impacts of the COVID 19 on marginalized groups including persons with disabilities in Nepal. Based on qualitative research with primary and secondary information, the paper emphasizes the experiences and realities of marginalized groups during the lockdown and pandemic situations. Some of the existing challenges faced by marginalized groups include access to information and health measures related to COVID 19, access to livelihoods and employment, increasing rates of suicide, violence against women from marginalized groups, women with disabilities, and others. The study will integrate these components and deal with intersections with concrete recommendations. 

Invisible to the Law: COVID-19 and the legal consciousness of persons with disabilities in Bangladesh

MIZAN, Arpeeta Shams
2021

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Despite disability rights being recognized through formal legislation in Bangladesh, the rights of persons with disabilities are still not effectively ensured. State interventions during the pandemic have not sufficiently accommodated the rights of Persons with Disabilities. Pre-existing social prejudices have added to their plight. Due to social prejudice and myriad access to justice challenges, persons with disabilities in Bangladesh face negative attitudes when it comes to exercising their legal rights. The article uses primary data obtained through qualitative interviews and secondary sources to illustrate how the Covid19 pandemic has reinforced structural discriminations and increased the vulnerability of persons with disabilities

Life Becomes Harder: Intersectional Feminist Lens to Dis/abled Experience of Women in Afghanistan during Covid 19 Pandemic and Post Covid Development Context

SHAJAHAN, Sharin
2021

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More than 40 years of war, ethnic conflict, violence and poverty have made Afghanistan a country where at least one in five live with a serious physical, sensory, intellectual, or psychosocial disability. Women with disabilities in Afghanistan are considered to be ‘doubly stigmatized’ due to gender inequality and disability stigmatization, and are often hidden from the social and political aspects of life. Although in the post-Taliban era, development interventions backed by international aid have been designed to include women with disabilities, their intersectionalities cutting across class, ethnicity, region, different types of impairments and other positionalities have not been explored to address different needs, barriers and inequalities across various regions. In this context, the Covid 19 crisis has made the lives of Afghan women with disabilities harder due to gender discrimination, stigma and shame, unemployment, lack of mobility, lack of awareness, and insufficient institutional support and infrastructure coupled with widespread feelings of insecurity resulting from conflict and terrorist attacks. Based on both primary and secondary data, this paper will shed a feminist intersectional insight into the plight of women with dis/abled experience during the Covid 19 pandemic in the complex political and social terrain of Afghanistan. The paper will also explore visions for designing interventions aimed at integrating women with disabilities in post Covid development plans.

Patients’ and communication partners’ experiences of communicative changes in Parkinson’s disease

JOHANSSON, Inga-Lena
SAMUELSSON, Christina
MULLER, Nicole
February 2021

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Purpose: The aim of the present study was to investigate the experiences of people with Parkinson’s disease and their close communication partners regarding disease-related communicative changes and participation in everyday conversations.

 

Materials and methods: Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with six dyads consisting of a person with Parkinson’s disease and a close communication partner. The interview material was analysed through thematic analysis.

 

Results: The main theme was the experiences of barriers and facilitators for participation in conversations. Subthemes were experiences related to changes in voice and articulation, language and cognition, body language and facial expressions, fatigue, self-image, communicative initiative, and familiarity with conversation partner. The results show individual variation. A change observed in almost all dyads was the person with Parkinson’s disease participating less in conversations.

 

Conclusions: Assessment and interventions should be based on a broad perspective on communication, and individuals’ priorities should be foregrounded in intervention planning. Both the person with Parkinson’s disease and communication partners need to make adjustments for communication to work. Therefore, close communication partners should be included in assessment and intervention of communication in Parkinson’s disease from an early stage.

Sexuality as part of rehabilitation? A qualitative study on the perceptions of rehabilitation nurses on discussing patient sexuality during clinical rehabilitation

PASCUAL, April
WIGHMAN, Amber
LITTOOIJ, Elsbeth C
JANSSEN, Thomas W
February 2021

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Introduction: Spinal cord injury may seriously affect sexual health and sexuality, which can lead to lower self-esteem, social isolation, lower quality of life, and an increased risk of depression. Nurses play an extensive role in providing patient education. However, a gap between the patients’ need for information and the lack of information provided by nurses still exists. Therefore, knowledge about barriers and facilitators regarding discussing patient sexuality is necessary.

 

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 25 nurses working in Spinal Cord Injury rehabilitation in one clinic in the Netherlands. The following themes were discussed during the interviews: (1) attitude, (2) social factors, (3) affect, (4) habits and (5) facilitating conditions.

 

Results: Addressing patient sexuality was difficult due to the nurses’ attitude and their environment. Sexuality was considered important but respondents were reserved to discuss the topic due to taboo, lack of knowledge, and common preconceptions. Participants expressed the need for education, a clear job description, time and privacy.

 

Conclusion: Nurses consider discussing patient sexuality as important but are hindered due to multiple factors. Organizational efforts targeted at knowledge expansion are needed to break the taboo and remove preconceptions. Nurses should provide opportunities to discuss the subject to intercept sexuality-related problems.

Participation and engagement in family activities among girls and young women with Rett syndrome living at home with their parents – a cross-sectional study

KRUSE GYLDHOF, Ditte
STAHLHUT, Michelle
EJLERSEN WAEHRENS, Eva
February 2021

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Purpose: To describe the extent of participation and engagement in family activities and explore variables potentially impacting on these factors in family activities among girls and young women with Rett syndrome (RTT) under the age of 21.

 

Materials and methods: The Child Participation in Family Activities (Child-PFA) questionnaire was sent to parents in the target group (n = 42). Additionally, age, number of siblings at home, ambulation level, clinical severity and level of hand function were recorded to explore possible impact. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, Fishers exact test and cross-tables.

 

Results: 23 families participated. Highest degrees of participation and engagement were seen in social and stationary family activities. Indoor activities were frequent and showed high levels of participation and engagement, Outdoor activities were infrequent and showed low levels of participation despite a high degree of engagement. Routine activities were frequent but showed moderate to low participation and engagement. A negative association was found between participation in watching a movie and number of siblings living at home, and positive associations between engagement and age in three family activities.

 

Conclusion: Therapists working with this target group may benefit from focusing on engagement in routine activities and modification of family activities.

Perspectives on access and usage of assistive technology by people with intellectual disabilities in the Western Cape province of South Africa: Where to from here?

BOOT, Fleur H
KAHONDE, Callista
DINSMORE, John
MACLACHLAN, Malcolm
2021

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Background: Whilst assistive technology (AT) can play an important role to improve quality of life, health inequity regarding access to appropriate AT for people with intellectual disabilities (ID) is still very much present especially in low resource countries.

 

Objectives: This study focused on exploring factors that influence access to and continued use of AT by people with ID in the Western Cape province of South Africa and to suggest potential implications of these findings and actions required to promote access to AT.

 

Method: A qualitative approach was used to explore the experiences of people with ID and providers of AT. Face-to-face interviews with 20 adults with mild to profound ID, and 17 providers of AT were conducted and the data were analysed thematically.

 

Results: People with ID within the study setting faced many challenges when trying to access AT and for those who managed to acquire AT, its continued usage was influenced by both personal characteristics of the user and environmental factors. Important factors that influence AT access and use for people with ID found in this study were (1) attitudes from the community, (2) knowledge and awareness to identify AT need and (3) AT training and instructions to support the user and care network.

 

Conclusion: With the perspectives of both the providers and users of AT, this study identified priority factors, which could be addressed to improve AT access and use for people with ID in the Western Cape province.

Using the Service-Learning approach to bridge the gap between theory and practice in teacher education

RESCH, K
SCHRITTESSER, I
2021

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Service-Learning stands out as a teaching approach that connects theory and practice by giving students the opportunity both to participate in a service that meets community needs and to reflect on the experience in class in order to gain a deeper understanding of the course content and an enhanced sense of civic engagement. The advantages of Service-Learning for inclusive education have recently been underpinned by studies, in which pre-service teachers are exposed to diverse population groups in schools or communities. Our study explores how Service-Learning is applied in teacher education in Austria. It is based on a series of semi-structured interviews with 13 teacher educators who apply this form of teaching in cooperative projects with schools. Our findings suggest that teacher educators distinguish between five orientations in Service-Learning (connecting theory and practice, engagement, community needs, job-related skills, learning outside the classroom), take on distinct expert and support roles, and see multiple benefits in Service-Learning. Our study underlines the importance of Service-Learning for inclusive education and the value of preparing pre-service teachers for dealing with diverse groups of pupils by allowing them to experience the real-world problems that confront schools.

Bullying among primary school-aged students: which factors could strengthen their tendency towards resilience?

GANOTZ, Tanja
SCHWAB, Susanne
LEHOFER, Mike
2021

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Resilience is the capacity to cope successfully with various threats. This paper aims to adapt the Resilience-Scale of Schumacher et al. (2004. Die Resilienzskala – ein Fragebogen zur Erfassung der psychischen Widerstandsfähigkeit als Personmerkmal. [The Resilience Scale – A Questionnaire to Measure Mental Resilience as a Personal Characteristic]. Zentrum für Klinische Psychologie, Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie) to measure the tendency of being resilient even before a threat occurs. Since primary school students are exposed to various threats at school, 535 4th grade students of Austrian primary schools were surveyed for the study. The reliability of the short-scale was found to be acceptable (Cronbach’s α = .66), and the tendency towards resilience can be explained by the students’ perception of their social inclusion in class (F (1,252) = 15.11, p<.05) and the relationship with their mothers (F (2, 251) = 10, 02, p<.05). The stability of the students’ tendency of being resilient was only moderate. A similar correlation between resilience and school-wellbeing for victims and non-victims of bullying can be reported. Future studies should focus more on primary school students’ resilience and related protective factors.

Comprehensive support for pupils at risk of school failure in inclusive education: theory and school practice in the Czech Republic

SLOWÍK, Josef
GAŽÁKOVÁ, Eva
HOLEČEK, Václav
ZACHOVÁ, Markéta
2021

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The paper presents possibilities of comprehensive use of support tools for pupils at risk of school failure in the Czech primary schools practice in order to support the implementation of inclusive education. The research data obtained during the project implemented in the Pilsen region in period of 2016–2019 brought the results of assessment of new support tools that are not yet systemically introduced in the Czech educational system and commonly available for all schools, although these instruments seem to be very effective or even necessary for quality inclusive education. The most important new tools include the position of inclusion coordinator in schools, strengthening the counselling services available directly in schools, as well as new strategies for promotion of cooperation between the schools, families, and social services – including some specific techniques, such as parenting workshops on child support in education, case conferences with child’s participation or seminars for parents and teachers on collaboration with social services. However, the exploitation of the results of this research and assessment will depend largely on political decisions at both local and governmental levels.

Social classroom climate and personalised instruction as predictors of students’ social participation

ZURBRIGGEN, Carmen L A
HOFMANN, Verena
LEHOFER, Mike
SCHWAB, Susanne
2021

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Previous research has repeatedly confirmed that students with special educational needs (SEN) are generally less accepted by their peers. Although inclusive teaching strategies and classroom characteristics are frequently hypothesised to improve students’ social participation, empirical evidence is scarce. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to investigate classroom characteristics and teaching practices that can help foster social participation, in general, and reduce the effect of lower social participation among students with SEN, in particular. The sample includes 518 students in 31 Grade 4 and 7 classes from Austria, of whom 99 are students with SEN. The results show that students with SEN receive fewer peer nominations and perceive their social participation to be lower compared to their peers without SEN. However, the association between SEN and self-perceived social participation is moderated by the social classroom climate, i.e. the difference becomes smaller when the social classroom climate is more positive. Furthermore, the higher the personalised instruction was rated by a student, the higher was his or her social status. The results suggest that interventions should focus not only on the improvement of individual students (with SEN) but also on changing the whole classroom environment.

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