Photovoice: Illuminating the Impact of Inclusive Education Practices in United States Public Schools
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This study explores the impacts of inclusive education practices in United States public schools from the perspective of students who receive these services. Majority of the literature on inclusive education practices is written by people who have not experienced special education services in the United States. Students targeted were from public schools in Washington state between the ages of 14 and 21. It is hypothesized that the study will provide an increase for students with disabilities to advocate for their own education and engage in self-advocacy. Photovoice is a participatory research approach that has participants take pictures to illustrate the research question that can later be supplemented by short stories or captions by the participants. Students participating were able to talk with each other about the Photovoice process, common themes they found in each other’s pictures and captions, and brainstorm ways to target local representatives and policy-makers. Data collection was strengthened by surveys to gather more specific information on people’s perceptions of inclusion and special education services. Themes identified include school experiences, employment and independent living, and stereotypes. Concepts from the Social Model of Disability and Dis/ability Critical Race Theory were used to further highlight student experiences. This study contributes to social work practice by providing an opportunity for students with disabilities to share their own perspectives and experiences within the public education system. This work will allow an opportunity for students with disabilities to become the principle speaker on special education reform.