Disability, Stigma and Otherness: Perspectives of Parents and Teachers

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This qualitative study explored the perspectives of parents and teachers in the US with regard to the meaning and implications of disability in the context of schoolling, and of raising a child with a disability. The findings revealed broad conceptual differences in the perspectives of these two groups. Teachers’ beliefs were generally consistent with medical model perspectives on disability as biologically defined. Parents’ interpretations, more aligned with a sociocultural paradigm, were situated in the cultural meanings ascribed to disability and linked with issues of stigma, marginalisation and access. The findings also revealed the existence of master narratives on families of children with disabilities, entrenched in assumptions of pathological functioning and negative outcomes among these families. Implications for professional–family partnerships in the education of students with disabilities are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-393
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Disability, Development and Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 4 Jul 2015


  • disability studies
  • dominant discourses
  • families of children with disabilities
  • parents’ perceptions
  • professional–family partnerships
  • social model of disability
  • sociocultural contexts of disability
  • teachers’ beliefs about disability


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