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Disability Studies, Crip Theory, and Education  

Rachel Hanebutt and Carlyn Mueller

Disability studies and crip theory emerged out of a need to reimagine, and directly challenge, dominant deficit perspectives of disability in many different contexts. Instead of framing disability as a problem of individual bodies, where the solution to difference is found in often deeply harmful rehabilitation and intervention, disability studies and crip theory allow for a more critical and expansive look at disability as an aspect of identity and culture that holds inherent value. While disability studies and crip theory have been used in academic and activist spaces, the impacts of a more critical and expansive framing of disability have incredibly important impacts on, and reciprocal relationships with, the theory and practice of education. Disability studies and crip theory both work to simultaneously critique and change dominant perspectives of disability in school settings, as it does in academic theory spaces; it challenges teachers, schools, and curriculum to ask questions of the benefits of using deficit perspectives, and what is lost when disability is seen only as a problem to be fixed. In this way, these two fields of inquiry and practice continue to shape, challenge, and push each other toward a more just sense of disability for all.