Disability as Difference in Canadian Teacher Education Programs: Policies and Lived Experiences

Dr. M. Lynn Aylward
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Most teacher education programs within Canadian universities have affirmative action programs in place to increase the ethno-cultural diversity of the student population. However, as noted by the Canadian Teachers Federation (2001), the recruitment of teacher education candidates with disabilities is virtually non-existent. Research has shown that persons with disabilities can be successful educators that bring a unique perspective to the construction of pedagogies (Duquette, 2000; Ferri, Keefe & Gregg, 2001; Gerber, 1998). Teachers with disabilities can also be valuable roles models for students, however they often face an alarming number of barriers in pursuing professional-level occupations (Bowman & Barr, 2001; Keller, Anderson, & Karp, 1998). The faculty of Bachelor of Education programs focus a significant amount of their teaching and scholarship efforts on the preparation of pre-service teachers for diverse student populations but the preparation of 'diverse' teachers is rarely explored (Goodlad, 2002; Hernandez Sheets,2004).
Drawing on a review of relevant literature as well as instructional experience with pre-service teachers who have disabilities, the following discussion addresses the question: Is disability an acceptable or workable 'difference' within current frameworks of diversity in teacher education? Specifically how do the concepts of academic integrity, self-identification, and program accommodation within the policy and practice of Canadian post-secondary institutions impact upon the lives of teacher education students with disabilities? Disability as difference is examined within the context of teacher education programs in order to promote an agenda of equity and inclusion for persons with disabilities within the teaching profession.

Keywords: Disability, Teacher Education, Inclusion
Stream: Learning, Education, Training
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Disability as Difference in Canadian Teacher Education Programs

Dr. M. Lynn Aylward

School of Education, Acadia University

Ref: D05P0330