Critical Analysis of Group Homes for Parents with a Child with Developmental Disability

Michael Goldberg

For parents of people with a developmental disability, the task of finding group home services starts early and can last decades. The mission becomes a greater concern as parents age and their ability to physically and financially support their adult children decreases. Even community housing waiting lists, which may be over a decade in some cases, do not compare to the wait times of people with an intellectual or developmental disability. As a support worker, advocate and former staff member at many agencies with group homes I have extensive experience with residents, staff, and families who are considering placing their child, going through the process of placing a child or have a child in a group home. I have seen first-hand that group home life provides structure, support and care to many individuals and assists them in living meaningful lives. I have also seen and heard of cases of abuse and neglect and had to deal with them personally. The intent of this paper is to inform parents and address parental concerns regarding policy, intake process and group home realities. The paper was informed by years of discussions with clients, staff and parents and my own experience working with service agencies.

Running head: Power Relations in Psychiatric Facilities

Sona Kazemi

This paper will be discussing power relations in psychiatric facilities to learn what type of political culture rules psychiatric hospitals as sociopolitical institutions. The research methodology will be discourse analysis which is used to examine few pages of the Center for Addiction and Mental Health’s website. The paper will link the findings to the current healthcare policies in Canada in general, and will draw possible lines between the highly colonial concepts of confinement, power, otherness, and the visas needed for traveling from the 3rd to the 1st world. There is a form of rationality behind the exercise of power, and when that form of rationality is undermined, power loses its foundations. This can be observed in current forms of psychiatric practice, where psychiatric power is in fact being undermined while apparently being ever more closely inscribed in social practices. One important theoretical perspective for understanding a psychiatric hospital is to examine how psychiatrists and other medical staff work within the hospital.

Disability Justice and the Politics and Social Relations of Care in Grassroots Community Organizing

Mary Jean Hande

Disability justice perspectives that challenge ableism remain largely absent from social justice organizing and discussions of self- and community-care. Yet incorporating these perspectives may be very helpful for effective and sustainable community organizing. I draw on Marxist-feminist theorizing to explore the importance of praxis in alternative care ethics. I also review disability activists’ stories, which often emphasize that social change happens in the everyday, embodied practices and relationships of care, to examine alternative self- and community-care praxis as potential modes of anti-oppression and resistance for social justice organizers. I argue that this praxis, from a disability justice perspective, prioritizes a commitment to accessibility, interdependency and sustainability that serves as a productive way not only to address ableism in social justice organizing, but also to create opportunities for stronger movements, more resilient communities and more radical politics.


Resilience: A marginalizing concept for individuals and families with diverse abilities

Emily Hutcheon

Early and current resilience studies employ an ecological approach, which emphasizes predictable relationships between risk and protective factors and transactional processes that foster resilience. Limitations of this approach, including limitations specific to populations deemed ‘impaired,’ have been acknowledged but remain unresolved. I suggest that individuals and families are marginalized by current definitions of resilience and by deployments of this understanding in their lived realities. This paper draws from a larger study which investigated capacity for family and sibling support of adult children with a variety of ability-sets and mental health diagnoses. I engage in a secondary analysis of data from individual and group interviews with three families which include members with diverse ability sets and diagnoses. Preliminary findings point to process and contradiction/paradox as important analytical dimensions when investigating resilience. I suggest that scholars across disciplines consider the following: 1) constructivist definitions of resilience (where resilience is seen as constructed, shared, and ordinary, and as a form of connectivity) into their frameworks; 2) exploring resilience outside the purview of competencies and abilities (for example, foreground alternative ability sets or subjectively constructed competencies); 3) providing a thorough and critical account of vulnerability in their notions of resilience.


Why identifying location is important: Making academic articles accessible to other disciplines and non-academics

Hilda Smith

The use of language is important to conveying ideas.  However, the meaning of ideas fails to be conveyed when context is not provided. This limits the degree of understanding that can be gained from a conversation.  This presentation will employ an interactive format, including brainstorming and mapping, to outline the importance of identifying a location (meaning to provide context or definition to the use of terms and ideas) in relation to academic articles.  This will help researchers to create information that has greater accessibility to other disciplines and non-academics.  Skills for developing more accessible information will be increased through discussion of how to identify location in academic papers.  Sharing of tools, by participants, will assist in developing a more consistent application of location with academic writing.


Women living with HIVAIDS: An Emerging Disability

Maria Thornton

This paper will examine the intersection of HIV/AIDS, disability, and gender as it relates to ethnicity, culture; socio-economic status and sexuality. Stigma is a complex and multifaceted problem for women with HIV/AIDS. It aims to demystify the misconceptions about women living with HIV/AIDS and disability.

Using narratives found within secondary sources this paper will offer a glimpse into the lived experience of women living with HIV/AIDS and disability. It will demonstrate how the intersection between HIV/AIDS and disability is culturally valued and understood. HIV/AIDS will be defined as an emerging disability including conditions not traditionally identified under the umbrella of disability. The medical and social models of disability will be discussed. In addition stereotypes about HIV/AIDS and disability, women’s access to diagnosis and treatment as people with disability, the assumption that, women with disability are asexual, and therefore aren’t perceived as HIV candidates will be discussed. Cultural expectations of women often blame them for having HIV/disability, which creates further oppression. “Cultural stereotypes imagine disabled women as asexual, unfit to reproduce, overly dependent, unattractive – as generally removed from the sphere of true womanhood and feminine beauty” (Garland –Thomson, 2006,  p.266).

Reference: Garland-Thomson, R. (2006) Integrating Disability Transforming Feminist Theory.  In L. Davis (Ed.), The Disability Studies Reader (2nd Ed). (pp. 257-273). New York: CRC Press.


Seizing Opportunities: Disability and the Post-Conflict Policy Agenda

Rebecca Irvine

 Post-conflict reconstruction presents an opportunity for the advancement of
 policies that recognize the rights of people with disabilities. South Africa
 and Uganda are regarded as having some of the most progressive disability
 policies in the world and in both cases these policies were introduced in a
 post-conflict environment. During this time, governments seek to build an
 inclusive society that addresses past injustices, and an organized,
 inclusive, and politically astute lobby can use this opportunity to convince
> decision-makers that disability should be a priority within post-conflict
 reconstruction. If they are successful it can result in the introduction of
 policies that have a significant long-term impact on the lives of people with

The paper will be split into three sections: the first part will address the
 links between disability and conflict; the second will discuss the
 characteristics of an effective disability rights movement operating in a
 post-conflict environment; and the third will focus on the experiences of
 South Africa, Northern Ireland, and Sierra Leone (three cases which have
 attempted to influence policy development in very different ways).

Funding Allocation For Mental health Services: A Perspective from First Nations Reserves in Ontario

Sean Hillier

 This paper examines the legislation and policies that direct the allocation of funding and programs for treatment of mental health and addictions for First Nations People living on Reserves within the Province of Ontario. This research was critical as it added to the current statistical information on the severity of mental health and addictions issues among First Nations populations. The suicide rate is five to eight times higher, depression is twice as high as the general population, and seventy-five percent of all Native people believe addiction is a major problem in their communities.

This paper employed indigenous ideas and critical race theory. The paper utilized a critical analysis of secondary sources as the primary method of data collection and analysis. The paper is be broken into two sections, first the exploration of policies that address where and how funding is calculated and dispensed, including specific data and statistics; and second, the implications that those findings may have on First Nations communities. Conclusions were made on the impact of legislation and policies around the allocation of funding for programs and services in relation to mental health and addictions for First Nations people living on Reserves in the province of Ontario, Canada.


Realising Rights: Article 33 of the CRPD

Meredith Raley

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (“CRPD” or “Convention”) is the first worldwide treaty to address the rights of people with disabilities. While simply getting such a document drafted and recognized by the world’s governments was an important achievement, the true test of any human rights treaty is in how well it is implemented. If the rights enshrined in the Convention are not taken up by governments and incorporated into their laws and policies, then the treaty cannot serve the citizens of these countries.

The implementation of human rights has been a persistent problem. The CRPD seeks to address this problem in a unique way, by requiring more action from states on a national level. Article 33 of the CRPD calls for states to create a national framework to guide and monitor the implementation process. This framework exists both within government, in the form of a focal point in charge of guiding the implementation process, and outside of government, as an independent monitoring mechanism. This framework not only provides more motivation for a government to work on the process of implementation, but it also creates new areas where advocacy groups may focus their efforts.


Young People Constructing Dyslexia Online: A Critical Discourse Analysis

Aubry Threlkeld

This paper examines how seven young people with dyslexia, who have posted videos disclosing their dyslexia on YouTube, construct their disability and discursive world that they inhabit online. Very little research has examined how young people manage dyslexia in talk, yet much research has focused on rehabilitating and intervening for this population without considering the voices of the youth themselves. Furthermore, as young people spend more time socializing with peers on-line, how do they express their learning disability?

Blending interdisciplinary content and qualitative methods from social semiotics and critical discourse analysis, I examined the words of seven young people who posted videos disclosing their dyslexia on YouTube. Across all seven stories, a variety of themes related to having a learning disability appeared: young people advocate for and support each other; react to being treated like a “dummy” and navigate passing and coming out as dyslexic online. The results of this exploratory study suggest an eclectic approach to modeling dyslexia in talk that accounts for medical understandings of self and various entry points and exits for claiming group or disabled status.


Representations of self in the vlogosphere

Donna Lee

In this paper I examine how disabled girls use the new medium of vlogging to represent themselves, and the ways in which these self-representations reproduce and contest dominant notions of disabled girlhood.  Traditionally images of disabled girls have been created by nondisabled others and have represented their subjects as either vulnerable objects of pity and charity, or as deviant bodies in need of reform and control.  These images contribute to widely held societal attitudes and practices that serve to perpetuate the inequality of disabled girls.  In recent years new media technologies have opened up opportunities for self-representation previously unavailable to disabled girls.  Like their nondisabled peers, disabled girls use new media to create and re-create their online selves through text, images and video, and to display these representations to an audience.  This study helps to connect the current research being done separately on disability, girls, and new media, bringing together important concepts of representation, ableism, and gender.

The presenter will ensure that the presentation is accessible in a variety of ways including provision of a verbal description of visuals used, options for large print handouts, transcripts of audio information contained in videos and availability of electronic copies of the presentation.


Wretched Bodies

Brendan Wilson

Wretched Bodies is a short erotic story that tackles themes of marginality, normalcy, the abject body, what bodies are deemed sexual, and what bodies are valuable. Wretched Bodies uses J. Cohen’s (1996) book on Monster Theory. I am taking the idea that Cohen posits that the monstrous body is often a stand in for marginalized bodies as demonstrated in stories such as King Kong and Hannibal the monster who stands in for black masculinities and transfeminine bodies. In such narratives often written by white, hetero, able bodied cismen, I gaze back at them making their fears a reality. The zombie is the rotting, abject body. Irrational, feral, and ugly. Unlike vampires and werewolves, they are not sexy bodies that can be redeemed. Queer, trans, racialized, fat, and disabled bodies are abject often times in ways that are irrational, feral, and ugly. The abject body is abnormal and unwanted. This is a story that critiques the normal and demonstrates that the abject stops being unwanted when the stigmatization is gone.

Work Cited:

Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome (1996). Monster Culture (Seven Theses). In Jeffrey Jerome Cohen (Eds.) Monster Theory: Reading Culture (pg. 3-25). University of Minnesota Press.

Shamed into “Health” or Shamed into Hiding? The Role of “Obesity Epidemic” Discourses in Responses to Fat Women’s Claims to Beauty

Elisabeth Harrison

Presently, as Malson (2008) explains, “‘being healthy’ is largely about “looking healthy.’” The look of “health” is that which is upheld as most beautiful in accordance with normative appearance ideals, particularly concerning body size. As the ideal woman’s body is slim, fat women are regarded as both ugly and unhealthy. “Obesity epidemic” discourses promoting the idea that fat is extremely harmful to health currently dominate the conversation about body size. In this context, claims that fat women are beautiful are understood not as promoting body pride, but as encouraging the normalisation of a deadly physical condition. According to this perspective, fat women should be ashamed of our bodies, hidden from view in the interest of health.

In this paper, I consider the political significance of beauty for fat women, and discuss the role of obesity epidemic discourses in responses to some recent claims to beauty made by fat women (drawing examples from Substantia Jones’ Adipositivity Project, and two 2012 beauty pageants for fat women). I argue that fat women’s attempts to expand the definition of beauty are understood by proponents of obesity epidemic discourses as evidence that they need to intensify their efforts to shame fat women into health, or at least into hiding.


Canguilhem and Disability Theory

Martin Boucher

George Canguilhem once proclaimed that the integration of technology in the process of diagnosis led to a clinical situation where the symptom was eclipsed by the sign. From the invention of the stethoscope in 1819 on, the place of patient experience has gradually declined, and with it the subjective understanding of illness and disability contained within it. This more ‘objective’ perspective of illness and disability—what we call the biomedical perspective—is a result of this. Criticisms of the biomedical perspective have been quite successful, where we have seen since the late 1970s a true paradigm shift towards a more inclusive “biopsychosocial” perspective; though this model, as many critical disability theorists recognize, is itself insufficient. The inclusion of the experience of disability, of its social and psychological aspects, still happens within the framework of scientific expertise (medicine, psychiatry, psychology etc.) and of scientific measures (DALYs, clinical outcomes, quality of life scales etc.). In this paper presentation I will explore Canguilhem’s vitalist philosophy in relation to these problems. It is my contention that we find in Canguilhem a political, as opposed to ethical or practical, justification for the real participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of medicine (both clinical and social).

Electrical Violences: How Electricity is Used to Punish and Control

A.J. Withers

This paper examines how electricity, through electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), aversive therapy and tasers, is used as a tool to effect individual submission and group control on bodies and groups marked as deviant or unruly. Beginning with a brief history of ECT and tasers, this paper will examine who has been targeted for electrical control/violence and the risks associated with their usage. Using an analysis of interlocking oppression, this paper explores how disability (a label of mental illness) is a prerequisite for the application of electricity. However, it is the police that initially label individuals as disabled prior to using tasers; and, men of colour are significantly less likely to have police psychiatrize them as they are viewed, I argue, as inherently pathological. This paper also examines how specific subordinated groups are disproportionately more likely to be exposed to electrical violences.

Supporting Students with Mental Health Problems: Implications for Post-Secondary Instructors

Marylou Di Placito

Students are confronted with a number of transitions when making the move to post-secondary education (Gerds & Mallinckrodt, 1994; Kadison & DiGeronimo, 2004; Kay, 2010; Kitzrow, 2003; Lunau, 2012; Hoffman, 2012; Ontario College Health Association, 2009; Sharp et al., 2006). Although not always the case, some students experience difficulties managing or adapting to the increase and change in responsibilities and expectations, which can ultimately affect their mental health well-being. The responsibilities and expectations surrounding support provision in post-secondary institutions typically fall on mental health professionals (Davidson & Locke, 2010). As a result, the role or potential of instructors as support providers remains unclear and/or underexplored. Through ethnographic inquiry situated in a qualitative, constructivist research design, this study examines the role of post-secondary education instructors in the provision of support for students with mental health problems. What kind of support initiatives do instructors employ? How do instructors complement the approaches of support exercised in colleges or universities? What are the issues or challenges of having instructors involved in the practice of support for students with mental health problems? The primary significance of this study was that it acknowledged instructors as imperative subjects in the provision of positive mental health for youth in academic settings; a timely response considering the increased number of students who report having a mental health problem in Ontario colleges and universities (Frado, 1993; Hoffman, 2012; Kitzrow, 2003; Lunau, 2012; Waller, 2006).

Keywords: student mental health, higher education, instructor support

Complicating the Roles of Mother-Activists in Disability Studies

Susan Macri

 As women, mothers are traditionally assigned to the primary caregiver role of their children.  Mothers of children with disabilities/impairments can become crusaders and champions for their children’s rights and freedoms, propelling them into the realm of activism.  The objective of this paper/presentation is to raise questions that will invite the audience to think critically about the important roles of mother-activists within Disability Studies–their history, their work, and their voices–with the purpose of engaging in an enriching discussion that will attempt to foster community and understanding through communication and open dialogue.  Some questions that will be addressed in the paper/presentation include: What constitutes a mother-activist?  As a woman, what does it mean to be both?  Who can be one, and why?  What socio-economic factors influence the effectiveness of mother-activism?  How do mothering and activism inform and influence each other?  How have mother-activists added to the discourse of Disability Studies?  How has their work influenced the Disability Movement?  This paper/presentation will seek to challenge traditional notions of what it means to be a “mother” and an “activist” to/for children with disabilities and impairments.

From diagnosis to disavowal: one disabled student’s journey in special education

Fady Shanouda

This study is simultaneously an autoethnographic account of the experience of being a disabled student within special education and a layered analysis of the educational debate over special or inclusive classrooms. Through systematic sociological introspection and emotional recall, events are remembered, then analyzed and contextualized within this debate. Through narrative analysis two distinct, yet overlapping disability issues arise. Analysis reveals that concepts such as overcoming disability/disablement and stigmatization are present in special education philosophy. Inclusive education is discussed as an alternative to special education, however, a critical examination of inclusive education reveals that there is potential for one’s disability identity to be erased and for governmentality to appropriate the notion of inclusion for its own benefit. An autoethnographic-layered account is being used in this study for two reasons. Firstly, to demonstrate that what is generally construed as political – policies, guidelines, curriculum – is easily made personal. (Ronai, 1994, p. 420) Secondly, to give voice to those “disadvantaged”, so that experiences generally ignored and hidden are made apparent and understood. (Ronai, 1994, p. 422).

Citizenship and disability: Belonging within the institution of education

Gillian Parekh

In Canada, children have a right and requirement to pursue an education. However, the education institution itself presents specific challenges to certain groups of students, particularly students with disabilities. Yuval-Davis (2006) identified several factors involved in actualizing social citizenship, appropriately dubbed ‘the politics of belonging’. Using the Toronto District School Board’s grade 9 cohort data, this study explores the experience of belonging in school for students who have been identified with a disability. Exploring students’ interactions with peers and teachers, results indicate that students identified with various disabilities are less likely to experience a sense of belonging in school as compared to the overall student population. When results were disaggregated, it becomes evident that although students with specific disabilities may experience membership and inclusion among their peers, their sense of belonging plummets within the institution. Incorporating Somers’ (2008) triadic model of citizenship and Thobani’s (2007) critical historical analysis of institutional oppression, discussion will demonstrate how both frameworks converge to inform critical disability theory and education praxis.


Invisible disability:  Disclosure Through Projection, Colour and felt

Michael Goldberg

Description of Work: three (6) poster-sized canvases (wall hung).

My work explores invisible disability and disclosure through art. Invisible disabilities are not immediately apparent. Some people with visual or auditory disabilities who do not wear glasses or hearing aids, or discreet hearing aids may not be obviously disabled. Invisible disabilities can also include chronic illnesses and conditions, such as color blindness, diabetes, epilepsy, schizophrenia, ADHD, depression, anxiety disorder, cancer, allergies, and autism. Disability only arises from impairments when there is a significant impairment in normal activities of daily living. For too long it was the individual who was considered disabled but perhaps the better perspective is to look at how society is imposing disability upon individuals. In the Canada 96% of people with chronic medical conditions show no outward signs of their illness. If you cannot see it does it exist?

“A Dialogue without Words”

Fiona Cheuk

Description of Work: Poster

The choice in methodology for research in disability and other fields is as much of a statement of the researcher’s position and beliefs as the findings of the research itself (Grierson, Brearley, et al 2009). Under this consideration, I explore the representations of disability in our contemporary interactive culture without the use of verbal and concrete conceptual language as a response to two issues: firstly, the absence of critical interrogation of how disability is represented in visual rhetoric within popular North American culture, and secondly, the dominance of verbal discourse within academic and scholarly spaces which is an unsatisfactory medium for in depth examinations of implicit knowledge about disability experiences.

I find it problematic that the dominance in academic spaces of verbal written language with its concrete concepts seems to presume that it is the only language with which knowledge constitutes as academically worthwhile. In doing so, this disregards the value of non-verbal and non-conceptual knowledge to be found through visual mediums. Through this piece, I visually engage the audience in a critical discussion about how disability is communicated in our casual interactions both in conversation and within visual media, and examine what kinds of implicit knowledge are present in the way where disability is indirectly referenced out of context in casual dialogues. I further complicate this by questioning whom visual rhetoric of disability includes and excludes and how various gendered and radicalized
identities intersect to create different troubling social responses to disability.

“I Seemed to Understand”

Estee Klar

Description of WorkPoem

The poem I Seemed to Understand is a reflexive arts-based approach to writing about my autistic son. It suggests that while we might feel compelled to “put words” to explain the intentions of non-verbal children, we may need to be more cautious. I suggest that my son has his own language that goes unnoticed by others who attempt to normalize children in a typical classroom setting. He is invisible within it, although very much a part of his environment. We all struggle with language and it falls short in explaining the experiences of my son as an autistic individual, even though verbose medicalized language is used to diagnose autism and communication as a series of lacks and deficiencies. I observe my son’s somatic responses to his environment and to others as communication. This poem was also part of a paper on parental ethnography about their children with autism, and a relational-dialectical approach to communication and interaction with autistic individuals.

To learn about The Autism Acceptance Project:



“Bark Like a Dog”: Disability Harassment in the Workplace

Susan B. Barak

Description of WorkPoster

KEYWORDS: disability, harassment, workplace, discrimination, accommodation

The phrase “disability harassment” may be relatively new (Holzbauer & Berven, 1996), but the experience of harassment for disabled people in the workplace is a long-standing problem (Ravaud & Stiker, 2001). Work is often a key factor in contributing to an individual’s health and wellbeing, as well as their ability to reach their potential to contribute to society, thus it behooves us to be apprised of potential pitfalls related to accommodation, discrimination, and harassment, since these often work in lockstep in the course of a disabled person’s employment-related experience (Malhotra, 2006).
The need to recognize and respond to the rampant problem of violence at work in general is increasingly demanded, internationally. With a view to actualizing the vision of respect for all in a fair and inclusive workplace environment, in concert with our Canadian Charter, with dignity as its lodestar (Shannon, 2007), this presentation identifies key issues, problematic gaps, possible remedies and recommendations, as well as avenues for further research.