Term of Award

Fall 2019

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

John Weaver

Committee Member 2

Daniel Chapman

Committee Member 3

Nirmala Erevelles

Committee Member 3 Email



In this dissertation inquiry, I explore the counternarratives of adults with disabilities relating to their identities and how their identities intersect and change with regards to technology and assistive technology. Theoretically building upon critical disability studies (Goodley, 2017; Davis, 2013, 2017; Erevelles, 2011) and posthumanism (Haraway, 1985/2016; Snaza & Weaver, 2015; Weaver, 2010) and methodologically drawing upon counternarrative or counterstories (Bamberg & Andrews, 2004; Carmona & Luschen, 2014; Delgado, 1989; Glenn, 2012; He & Phillion, 2008; He & Ross, 2012; Sandoval & Davis, 2008; Smith, 2006; Solazano & Yosso, 2002; Tuck, 2009), I explore the stories of seven participants with shifting and intersecting identities and disabilities. I also explore the possibilities for individuals, schools, and society to push towards action, advocacy, and social justice to remove societal barriers that envelope disability as a group identity in the furtherance of independence and fully-experienced lives.

Seven adults with disabilities participated in my study. They are Eli, Silas, McKenzie, Liz, George, Leila, and Paul. These seven participants use technology and assistive technology to navigate their life. Their ages range from 19-50. Five of them are white men, and two are women with one South Asian American and one white. All participants have physical disabilities that stem from a variety of medical impairments such as degenerative muscle diseases, cerebral palsy, or impairment from injury and subsequent infections. All of the participants are working in professional capacities with a college education. Some of them hold postgraduate degrees or certifications.

Eight findings have emerged from this inquiry. People with disabilities experience disability as a social reconstruction rather than medical deficits and physical impairments, which fails to capture the multiple abilities and complex aspects of their identities. Technology is a path to independence and connection. Technology is both a tool and an integral part of the lives of people with disabilities. Disability has informed and shaped pieces of these adults' lives, livelihoods, communities and even their leisures. People with disabilities want to be viewed as who they are with many dimensions and intersections but not as a person with a disability as the main or only aspect of identity. Living a life as a person with a disability engenders advocacy for other people with disabilities. Working with people with disabilities through teaching, research, and life helps develop critical empathy and engenders strong advocacy for people with disabilities. Listening to and learning from the counternarratives of people with disabilities fosters urgency to develop a curriculum for social justice that helps create equal opportunities for all to reach their highest potential (Siddle-Walker, 1996) in an unjust and contested world.

Research Data and Supplementary Material


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