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*Note* This scheduling program was not designed by folks who do a lot with APA Style and unfortunately it defaults to listing authors in alphabetical order. We cannot fix this for this online schedule, but the author orders are posted in the order submitted in the printed program available via pdf here.

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Friday, March 6 • 3:45pm - 4:45pm
But You Look Just Fine: Experiences of Ableism by People with Invisible Disabilities

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Ableism is the systemic oppression that affords privilege to people who are able-bodied and/or neurotypical while marginalizing individuals with disabilities. Much existing research on ableism focuses on individuals with “visible” disabilities; those whose disabilities are more apparent to outsiders. This study used phenomenology based qualitative interviews (Padgett, 2012) in order to examine how people with “invisible” (less apparent) physical disabilities experience ableism. Fifteen individuals ages 18 and older were interviewed (approximately 45 minutes each) regarding the participant’s disability(ies), their feelings around having disabilities that are perceived as “invisible” by others in society, and their experiences of ableism, both explicitly and through microaggressions. Questions were part of an open ended, loosely structured interview scheduling, allowing for personalization of each interview depending on the participants’ experiences. Themes that emerged via open coding and using the table-top method to reach inter-rater consensus on theming (Saldana, 2013) included policing of selves, tension in roles, desire for justice, and interestingly, internalized ableism. Many participants recounted their experiences of having their bodies and actions policed by others, including others with disabilities, challenging their actions on a regular basis. In examining their roles as someone providing education about their disabilities and having to educate on policies, needs and accommodations, several participants shared struggling with what their roles were in any given situation. The theme of desire for justice speaks to the frustration participants expressed of having to educate others, how much energy it took to provide this education, and desire for social change to provide societal education regarding ableism. The theme of internalized ableism reflects both explicit experiences of individuals sharing their self-judgment about abilities, as well as unintentional ableist statements made throughout the interviews. Given these themes, potential implications for community education, policy change and offering justice/equity will be discussed.

Friday March 6, 2015 3:45pm - 4:45pm