Disability Construction Among Early Childhood Educators in Nova Scotia

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Alarcón, Rafaela Muriel
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Mount Saint Vincent University
Traditionally, disability has been viewed through the medical model, which views disability predominantly through an individual’s medical signifiers. The medical model in the context of education continues to construct disability as something to be fixed and remediated. However, this study proposes static medicalized constructions on disability need to be disrupted with attendance to the wider dimensions of experience, including disability as a viable identity marker in the lives of young children. The aim of this study was to explore Nova Scotia early childhood educators’ (ECEs) knowledge and perspectives on how inclusion is delivered, including how ECEs construct disability in their everyday practice. Focus groups were mobilized as the research method to gain new understandings on the ECEs beliefs and philosophies as they relate to disability and inclusive approaches. The ECEs shared their perspectives on disability and inclusion within their daily practice and their inclusive training. During the focus groups, the ECEs discussed how language was a powerful mitigating factor and that the phrases and terms ECEs use often inform how a young child experiences inclusion. The ECEs also acknowledge that delivery of inclusion is complex and that an ECEs own histories and education impact inclusive pedagogy. The ECEs also expressed the barriers that families can experience in relation to accessible programming and the requirement for more training to support young children and their families in their centers.