Abstracts – Poster Presentations

Abstracts – Poster Presentations
I feel like I just don’t quite fit in: Working-age adults with a physical disability

share their experiences in residential care


Sarah Chapple


This study explores the perceptions of working-age adults with a physical disability who often face unique challenges while living in a residential care facility designed for a geriatric population. It is apparent that by addressing psychosocial needs and providing appropriate health care services to adults with a physical disability, strengths and challenges of these residents can be highlighted and recommendations made to improve upon experiences within residential care. In this study, I sought to answer the question: how do working-age adults with a physical disability experience living in a residential care home designed for a geriatric population?


Utilizing a qualitative narrative method, eight adults between the ages of 22 and 59 participated in a face-to-face audio taped interview, during which they shared stories of their personal experiences living in a residential care home designed for seniors. The concerns and experiences of the participants in this study clustered into the following key themes: (1) admission stories, (2) coping and adjustment, (3) relationships, (4) institutional culture and environment, and (5) hope. Subthemes included experiences of grief and loss, loss of autonomy and choice, changes in family relationships, relationships with staff and older residents, social support and advocacy and perceptions of “fitting in.”



Understanding the Academic Experiences of Students with

Learning Disabilities in a Canadian University


Zaynab Ebrahim


Students with learning disabilities voices have been largely excluded from higher educational research on teaching/pedagogical assessment and transformation. The existing body of literature on students with learning disabilities is limited to understanding academic difficulties instead of student perspectives on teaching recommendations. In efforts to advocate for pedagogical/instructional improvements, this study describes the findings and examines the issues arising from a small-scale investigation into the academic experiences of students with learning disabilities at a higher educational institution in Canada. A group of student volunteers diagnosed or who self-identified as ‘learning disabled’, participated in a nominal group to identify the most salient instructional and assessment techniques that positively and negatively affect their academic experiences. Participants ranked three recommendations to improve the efficacy of teaching and learning experience for students with learning disabilities in higher education. These include: 1) Offering diverse instructional techniques for evaluating student performance; 2) Mandatory teacher training for instructors and teaching assistants (specifically with respect to student accommodation and inclusivity); 3) Improve instructor-student dialogue. This research presents new findings to the field of higher educational teaching assessment and disabilities studies by bringing attention to key changes that need to be addressed at the instructional and administrative level to make education more inclusive for students with diverse learning needs.



Disabling Pain


Maria Guadagnoli-Closs


This interactive poster presentation explores the concept and the experience of pain. Pain is a subjective experience, real and an invisible disability. In this piece I attempt to make the invisible visible through an interactive textual component that forces the audience to associate various textile sensations to those persons in pain deal with on a daily basis. For example this would include touching 300 piercing toothpicks. Symbolically the found objects are strategically placed so that these ‘painful’ sensations can be re-experienced. The basis for the describing words and sensations are taken from the McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ). The audience is encourages to embrace themselves in the ‘pain’ experience by being involved in the visible and invisible aspects. The magnetic component has a body which can be moved and fractured to signify the taking apart and recreating of the body, identity and embodiment of those living with. This presentation emphasizes the link between pain and disability.



A History of Education in Developmental Service:   Comparing Curricula in Ontario


Kim Hutchinson


In 1876, the Ontario government opened Canada’s first institution for people with developmental disabilities in Orillia. Previously, under the “Act to Authorise the Erection of an Asylum within this province for the reception of Insane/And or Lunatic Persons” of 1839, institutions had been erected for the purposes of incarcerating people who had (or were perceived to have had) psychiatric disabilities. Under this act, the government assumed responsibility for ‘undesirables’ within society, which quickly came to include people with developmental disabilities.


With the creation of institutions came a new kind of employment structure which was clearly entrenched in the medical model. Today, this employment structure encompasses many different careers on the developmental services hierarchy; however, this paper will focus primarily on the history of the developmental services worker. While developmental services have undergone some very positive and affirming changes for both people with disabilities and people who work within the employment structures, further knowledge of this history will illustrate the traditions that have been passed on to transinstitutional employment structures (such as group homes, rooming houses, and day programs) which continue to devalue and disrupt the lives of people who live within these structures.



One Laptop per Child and Uruguay’s Plan Ceibal:  Impact on Special Education


Jennifer Martino


In partnership with One Laptop per Child (OLPC), the Uruguayan government has succeeded in providing every primary student of the public school system with a personal laptop under an initiative entitled Plan Ceibal (Basic Computer Educational Connectivity for Online Learning). Special education institutions have been included in the initiative in terms of laptop distribution and teacher training, but have been excluded from social impact assessments of the program. Based on findings from ten-weeks of field research including interviews with 26 teachers and participant observation in three schools, I will argue that the one-to-one computing model has had a significant impact on learning outcomes within Uruguayan special education due to a combination of learning opportunities afforded by the OLPC laptop, teacher support, and the unique didactic approach of special education. Outcomes are most notably observed in relation to classroom dynamics, student motivation, literacy and communication.



Processes, Challenges & Strategies associated with Interviewing Individuals

with Severe Communication and Physical Impairments


Laura Moll


The objective of this presentation is to describe the interview process, challenges, and strategies that were used to co-construct life stories of nine individuals with cerebral palsy.  The experiences that will be shared come from a retrospective qualitative study on the experience of growing up and growing older with a physical impairment.  The information presented will be useful to researchers interested in increasing the participation of individuals with moderate to severe impairments in health related research.  Learning about their experiences is important to informing health care and rehabilitation policies and programs that can address their changing needs across the life course.




Ontario Disability Support Program – Employment Retention Project 2009


Scott White


This presentation/paper represents a collaboration of the Ministry of Community and Social Services ODSP Employment Supports Program and JOIN – Job Opportunity Information Network. JOIN represents 25 disability related non-profits in the City of Toronto. A one year research project collected data from clients, managers, supervisors and front-line staff about capacity building for retained employment. The key direction of the research and report was to build a service delivery template, integrating universal design principles and input from all stakeholders. A logic model, service delivery template and measurement planning template form an outline of future service directions. An ecological approach integrating stakeholder perspectives and specific terms of service delivery, service agreements and outcomes of service are identified in the report. The final report was published in June of 2009 and disseminated to the Ministry and all key stakeholders across the JOIN network.

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