Disability Disclosure in Higher Education
The Division of Doctoral Studies faculty member, Dr. Rebecca Cory, recently presented at the Disability and Disclosure in/and Higher Education Conference at the University of Delaware. Her paper was a continuation, and deepening of the research from her dissertation, on how students with “invisible” disabilities avoid disclosure in the higher education setting.
Dr. Cory’s paper focused on how the higher education environment requires students to formally and frequently disclose their disability to the disability services office, their faculty, and other staff. Unfortunately, Cory’s research shows that students are reluctant to disclose, often putting off disclosure until such a time as they feel they have no other choice. Cory put forth the idea that creating an institution that does not require disclosure of disability, but rather anticipates the diversity of students and creates mechanisms for inclusion of that diversity using principles of Universal Design, would create a more supportive and welcoming environment.
When asked about the conference experience, Dr. Cory said, “It was phenomenal!! There is something so reaffirming about academic conferences and the ability to be surrounded by people who all have the same interest.” A highlight of the conference for Dr. Cory was sharing ideas with people who have a similar outlook on disability. “The participants of this conference really ‘get’ disability in the same way I do.” She said. “We see disability as a social construction, and how the institutions create an environment that marginalizes the disabled students and faculty.”
The conference ran on “crip time” which meant the sessions were longer, to allow time for deep discussion after the presentations, and the breaks were longer. The conference also featured a “quiet room” for those who needed a low stimulation environment at times, and communication badges so participants could signal their openness to social communication without saying a word. Every session had real time captioning and sign language interpreters. The conference organizers addressed the issues around disability in higher education and worked to create an accessible environment for all participants.
Dr. Rebecca Cory was a full time faculty member in the Division of Doctoral Studies at CityU.