Promoting Disability Literacy in Occupational Therapy Curricula: A Participatory Action Research Approach
Heffron, Jenna L.
MetadataShow full item record
Occupational therapy (OT) is lauded as the rehabilitation profession most aligned with disability community perspectives, yet it is also critiqued for perpetuating negative perceptions of disability. Participation in OT education has been shown to impact student perceptions of disability, and there have been increasing efforts to improve the disability literacy of OT educational programs. However, to date, there has not been a systematic examination of what disability literacy entails in OT education, nor has there been an examination of the degree to which disability literacy is currently present in OT education. Therefore, this study sought to: (a) identify priorities that disability community members consider important for OT curricula to address; (b) explore the extent to which these priorities are included in a sample of entry-level OT curricula; and (c) support disability community-OT curriculum collaborations aimed at improving the disability literacy of these curricula. Disability literacy criteria emerged from focus groups and in-depth interviews with 20 disability community participants as well as from a review of disability studies (DS) and critical OT literature on the topic. Faculty interviews (n=8), student focus groups (n=14), and document analysis of curriculum materials were then used to analyze three OT Master’s-level curricula to determine the extent of inclusion of the disability literacy criteria. Finally, during a mixed focus group (n=10), OT faculty and disability community participants engaged in collaborative discussions and developed action plans for better infusing disability literacy into OT education, both within and across programs.
participatory action research