Disability Inclusion Is a Disabling Illusion


Inclusion and equity are the buzzwords of civilized society. Racial and gender equity presentations are available at every professional conference. However, we contend that inclusion and equity for people with physical disabilities has not the same appeal, and actually is but an illusion. We do not believe inclusion and equity exists for this population. An example can be found in school physical education programs. The illusion is manufactured by well-meaning teachers and administrators who develop supposed inclusionary practice. For example, a student with a physical disability is given the task of being a line judge for a game or assigned the task of referee. Or, a child with a physical disability is pushed by an aide around the playing area, while the abled bodied children play. Including a student who has a physical disability in such fashion is a disabling illusion that teachers have created for years, often supported by the school’s legal department. Instead, the practice is exclusionary and the child is denied the opportunity to play and be fully involved with the abled bodied students. The purpose of this study is threefold: 1) to examine why disability inclusion in its current state is a disabling illusion, 2) to apply Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s description of the abled bodied perspective as a limitation for abled bodied teachers to practice inclusion for children with a physical disability, and 3) to provide solutions of how disability inclusion in physical education and sport can be fruitful for everyone involved.


Aubrey H. Shaw
Research Consultant for the Center for ETHICS, University of Idaho, Idaho, United States

Sharon Kay Stoll
Professor, Movement Sciences, University of Idaho, Idaho, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Sport and Health


Disability Inclusion, Students with Physical Disabilities

Digital Media


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