Ableism, Intersectionality, Power and Knowledge: The Complexities of Navigating Accommodations in Postsecondary Institutions
Brown, Zahra J.
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Although post-secondary educational institutions have been mandated by law to accommodate, the issue of students with disabilities receiving accommodation remains problematic. One factor that is relevant, but often overlooked, is how power functions in the process of seeking and receiving accommodation. My interest is to critically examine selected parts of my lived experiences with accommodation at three post-secondary institutions to shed light upon how power, knowledge and intersectionality function for students seeking and receiving accommodation. I argue that a successful navigation of accommodation at postsecondary institutions does not depend only on the institution’s duty to accommodate but also on these factors. My literature review employs constructs proposed by several scholars to explain the complexities of accommodation. These include: 1) Kimberlé Crenshaw’s Black Feminist conceptualization of intersectionality and the need for a multiple axis framework to understand the dilemma that Black women present, 2) Patricia Hill Collins’ Black Feminist Thought and its emphasis on categories of analyses that address unequal power relationships between parties, 3) Richard Clark Eckert and Amy June Rowley’s notion of audism as embodying supremacy, 4) Michel Foucault’s articulation of discourse analyses of knowledge and power, and 5) Teri Hibbs and Dianne Pothier’s analysis of how power functions in the accommodation process. I apply these notions to an auto-ethnographic case study of my own experiences in postsecondary institutions as black, woman and student with disabilities. The results of my analysis as well as my recommendations will advance scholarship in the area of accommodation and disabilities.