Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Relate the behaviors and attitudes | Max paper


Relate the behaviors and attitudes they reflect of the people in the  video about Jonathan to the section titled “Cultural Representations of  Disability” found in the resource: Chapter 22 Disability Culture:  Assimilation or Inclusion.

2. As an advertising executive you are asked to design a public  service ad to alter the prevailing negative views about disability.  Describe your approach, the principles on which it is based, and the end  result


SAGE Reference

Handbook of Disability Studies

Disability Culture: Assimilation or Inclusion?

Contributors: Author:Colin Barnes & Geoff Mercer

Edited by: Gary L. Albrecht, Katherine Seelman & Michael Bury

Book Title: Handbook of Disability Studies

Chapter Title: “Disability Culture: Assimilation or Inclusion?”

Pub. Date: 2001

Access Date: September 15, 2021

Publishing Company: SAGE Publications, Inc.

City: Thousand Oaks

Print ISBN: 9780761916529

Online ISBN: 9781412976251


Print pages: 515-534

© 2001 SAGE Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

This PDF has been generated from SAGE Knowledge. Please note that the pagination of the online

version will vary from the pagination of the print book.

Disability Culture: Assimilation or Inclusion?

Disability culture: Assimilation or inclusion?

Since the 1970s, a disabled people’s movement has become established as a political force worldwide. It
has confronted the orthodox view that disability should be defined in terms of individual impairment that
requires medical treatment. In contrast, disability theory and practice argue that this movement arises from
society’s failure to remove the wide-ranging social, economic, and environmental barriers that underpin
the social exclusion of disabled people and the denial of their basic citizenship rights—what has been
termed a social model of disability (Finkelstein 1980; Oliver 1983, 1990). This has been complemented by
concerted campaigns against the negative stereotypes contained in media and cultural representations. The
politicization of disabled people has also highlighted the significance of an alternative disability culture, which
celebrates a positive disabled identity and consciousness.

This chapter has four main objectives:

• 1.
to review the analysis of culture and its relationship to society, the economy, and politics;

• 2.
to outline the representation of disability in mainstream culture;

• 3.
to explore the generation of disability cultures;

• 4.
to examine the development of the disability arts movement and its implications for disability culture.

These issues will be illustrated with examples from both U.K. and U.S. cultures.

Analyzing Culture

Sociological studies of culture have adopted a broad interpretation to include symbolic aspects of human
society, such as beliefs, rituals, customs, and values, as well as work patterns, leisure activities, and material
goods. “Culture consists of the values the members of a given group hold, the norms they follow, and the
material goods they create” (Giddens 1989:31). While values are “abstract ideals,” norms encompass the
rules or guidelines for what is acceptable in social life. This highlights a diffuse view of culture as a shared
“way of life.” The emphasis is on culture as a “signifying system” through which practices, meanings, and
values are “communicated, reproduced, experienced and explored” (Williams 1981:13).

To become a member of a society, one must learn or be socialized into its cultural assumptions and rules,
including what (or who) is considered “normal” and typical and categorized as “different.” H. G. Wells, in a
short story published in 1904, tells of a man called Nunez who falls off a mountain into an isolated valley
populated entirely by people with congenital blindness. He presumes that “in the Country of the Blind, the
One-eyed Man is King” (Wells 1979:129). In practice, the efforts of Nunez to help the people are rejected by
the community, which is sustained by its own distinctive cultural norms and values.

In the conditions of complex industrial societies, cultures rest on something less than complete uniformity
among its members. Moreover, such cultures are not static but typically exhibit a degree of flux:

A culture has two aspects: the known meanings and directions, which its members are trained to; the new
observations and meanings, which are offered and tested. These are the ordinary processes of human
societies and human minds, and we see through them the nature of a culture: that it is always both traditional
and creative. (Williams 1989:4)

The exact form of the relationship between culture and society, particularly its material base, has attracted
considerable theoretical debate, stretching back to the writings of classical social theorists, such as Marx,

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Weber, and Durkheim. In the “orthodox” Marxist variant, the ownership and control of the means of production
provide the explanatory key. In some accounts, this leads to a crude determinism in which culture, ideas,
and other aspects of what is called the superstructure reflect conditions in the material base. This highlights
the political significance of culture as a “dominant ideology” that justifies or obscures social inequalities and
perpetuates the oppression of one social group by another. More recent analyses have taken inspiration from
a diverse range of social theories, particularly critical theory and neo-Marxism, feminism, poststructuralism,
and postmodernism.

The Frankfurt school is generally credited with initiating studies of the media and culture in the 1930s located
within critical theory. Its focus was multidisciplinary and spanned a political economy of the media (and
the “culture industries”), an analysis of texts, and studies of the social and ideological effects of the media
(mass culture) on audiences (Kellner 1989). While the primary focus was on the role of mass culture in
promoting working-class passivity and stabilizing industrial capitalism, other studies explored the ways in
which some “high” culture offered possibilities for stimulating social and political criticism. It was not until the
late 1960s that such issues were picked up and reformulated with a revival of interest in the work of the Italian
Marxist, Antonio Gramsci (1971, 1985). His analysis of capitalist domination stressed not only the significance
of coercion but also the achievement of “hegemony”—by “willing consent”—through the dominant group’s
direction of the production and consumption of cultural activities.

Gramsci’s influence is very evident in the British cultural studies approach associated with Stuart Hall and
his colleagues in the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) at the University of Birmingham (Hall
1980; Hall and Jefferson 1976). A further important contributor has been Raymond Williams (1958, 1980,
1981), who developed the notion of cultural materialism. Their work has helped spark a vibrant cultural studies
literature. It dismisses the notion of an all-enveloping culture and explores instead the “relative autonomy”
between the dominant or “hegemonic” culture and the economy, society, and polity.

The CCCS analysis also stressed the importance of hierarchical and antagonistic social divisions located
in gender, race, and generations. These subordinate groups generate “subcultures” or “counterhegemonies”
that lead to a form of cultural conflict with the dominant social group. Early studies concentrated on the
more spectacular youth subcultures of the post-1960s period (i.e., teddy boys, mods, rockers, skinheads,
and punks). In “resisting” adult culture, disillusioned, working-class youth find opportunities in the increasing
consumerism of the late-twentieth-century Western capitalist societies to create their own meanings through
peer group relations, style, and leisure activities (Hall 1992; Hall and Jefferson 1976).

Most recently, the analysis of late-twentieth-century society, with its emphasis on cultural difference and
pluralism, has been at the heart of a burgeoning influence of postmodernism within the cultural studies
literature (Inglis 1993). The emphasis on class conflict and struggle has been displaced by a much broader
discourse on social and cultural difference, including race, sexuality, and age as well as disability (Hall
1997; Woodward 1997). This heralds a transition in cultural politics—what Stuart Hall in analyzing black
culture refers to as a shift “from a struggle over the relations of representation to a politics of representation
itself” (Hall 1988:27–28). This suggests that in the continuing campaign against the marginalization and
subordination of disabled people, there is an emerging conflict over identity and competing interpretations
of what it means to be a “disabled person” within the imagined “disability community.” The political struggle
assumes new forms that are manifested in the arena of cultural representation.

In the writings of the French “poststructuralist” Michel Foucault, the history of ideas about medicine, madness,
and sexuality are analyzed as sociocultural products of particular epochs. His notion of “discursive practice”
focuses on the ways in which individual subjects are constituted by discourse (by the ways we talk about
them), which itself is structured by a “power/knowledge” complex. That is, the authority to define or describe
people or events occupies a significant role in social regulation. This suggests an examination of the
“invention” of disability in nineteenth-century medical discourse and of the relationship between “able-bodied
normality” and the disabled “other,” as increasingly defined by professional knowledge and practice (Hughes
and Paterson 1997).

As a sign of the changing times, one of the first books in Britain to challenge the “able-bodied” orthodoxy by
disabled people was Paul Hunt’s (1966) edited collection, Stigma: The Experience of Disability. In his own

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essay, Hunt argues that disabled people “are set apart from the ordinary” in ways that represent them as a
direct “challenge” to commonly held societal values. They are “unfortunate, useless, different, oppressed and
sick” (Hunt 1966:146). This characterizes disability in industrial capitalist societies as a “personal tragedy” in

people’s shocked reaction to the “obvious deviant” stimulates their own deepest fears and difficulties, their
failure to accept themselves as they really are and the other person simply as “other.” (Hunt 1966:152)

This sets the scene for a struggle by disabled people to supplant oppressive representations with others that
reflect their own experiences and values. It heralds the generation of a disability culture, which expresses and
sustains a positive disabled identity. From this perspective, disability culture acts as a means of politicizing
and cohering disabled people. In contrast, the recent influence of poststructuralist and postmodernist theory
has been to highlight the importance of “difference” and multiple identities. This suggests a focus on disability
subcultures and provokes debates about the possibilities for unified political action within the disabled

Cultural Representations of Disability

Historically, the characterization of disabled people in mainstream culture has stressed their significant
“abnormalities.” These are variously used as sources of “entertainment” or to induce and confirm the fears
and abhorrence in the nondisabled population. In ancient Greece and Rome,

it would almost seem as if no fashionable household was complete without a generous sprinkling of dwarfs,
mutes, cretins, eunuchs and hunchbacks, whose principle duty appears to have been to undergo degrading
and painful humiliation in order to provide amusement at dinner parties and other festive occasions. (Garland

Evidence of society’s fascination with perceived bodily abnormalities persisted throughout the Middle Ages.
Many royal courts in Europe retained people of short stature as “court jesters” or kept a complement of “fools,”
including people with cognitive impairments and learning difficulties, as well as others who feigned “idiocy”
to provide amusement. It was also common practice for people with perceived “deformities” and intellectual
impairments to be put on display at village fairs on market days, festivals, and holidays, “and peasant parents
are known to have toured the countryside displaying for money recently born infants with birth defects”
(Gerber 1996:43). The public exhibition of the inmates of “madhouses,” such as Bedlam, continued this

By the nineteenth century, such displays had developed into “freak shows,” which offered a “formally
organized exhibition of people with alleged physical, mental or behavioural difference at circuses, fairs
carnivals or other amusement venues” (Bogdan 1996:25). These flourished in Europe and North America in
the nineteenth century and in the early part of the twentieth century. They were complemented by the so-
called “Ugly Laws” in the United States, which placed social restrictions on those whose physical appearance
might offend or frighten “normal” people (Bogdan 1996; Gerber 1996). The freak shows were undoubtedly
the site for the exploitation and degradation of people with impairments, although some disabled performers
enjoyed public celebrity status and sometimes earned corresponding financial rewards (Bogdan 1996).

While public acceptance of the freak show markedly declined in the early twentieth century, other cultural
forms took over. These continued to reflect and confirm negative stereotypes and provide ample
rationalization for treating disabled people as “defective” (Battye 1966; Campling 1981; Shearer 1981) or in
a “liminal” state. “Neither fish nor fowl; they exist in partial isolation from society as undefined, ambiguous
people” (Murphy 1987:112). Indeed, at the end of the century, as Susan Sontag graphically illustrates, the
cultural meanings associated with “dread diseases,” such as cancer and HIV/AIDS, are so powerful that “it is
hardly possible to take up one’s residence in the kingdom of the ill unprejudiced by the lurid metaphors with
which it has been landscaped” (Sontag 1991:3).

Yet while illness and impairment are often the catalyst for stigma and dread, there is a converse reaction
to romanticize their impact on the production of “high culture.” For example, in the nineteenth century,

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tuberculosis or “consumption” became closely associated with individual creativity and artistic sensitivity, as
with a number of well-known novelists and poets, including Robert Louis Stevenson, Katherine Mansfield,
and John Keats. From this standpoint, some sickness or impairment is credited with adding to the appeal or
the insight of the artist (Sontag 1991). This linkage continues through to contemporary musical performers,
including Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and Hank Williams.

Yet overall, it is the negative cultural stereotyping of people with impairment that rules as the “norm.” A series
of American studies of representations of disabled people document this pattern across different forms of
media culture (Biklen and Bogdan 1977; Clogson 1990; Haller 1995; Klobas 1988; Kurtz 1981; Zola 1985).
One of the most cited collections, Images of the Disabled, Disabling Images (Gartner and Joe 1987), provides
a comprehensive critique. In his contribution, Laurence Kriegel (1987) concludes, after reviewing sources as
diverse as Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Moby Dick, that

the world of the crippled and disabled is strange and dark, and it is held up to judgment by those who live in
fear of it. The cripple is the creature who has been deprived of his ability to create a self…. He must accept
definition from outside the boundaries of his own existence. (P. 33)

This argument is echoed in John Schuchman’s (1988) survey of images of deafness or “pathological myths”
in Hollywood films. Other writers document how this disabling imagery extends to popular cartoon series
(Longmore 1987).

Content analyses of the British media programs provide a similar picture. For example, Guy Cumber batch
and Ralph Negrine (1992) monitored television output for six weeks during 1988. Their central findings,
reinforced by more recent studies (Ross 1997), are that television programs consistently adhere to a
“personal tragedy” approach. The most prevalent story lines linked disabled people with medical treatment
or cure, together with programs focusing on their “special achievements.” More widely, the representations of
disabled people were highly stereotypical, depicting them not as ordinary members of society and part of the
“drama of life” but using them to evoke emotions of pity, fear, or admiration. Newspaper reporting of disability
has attracted parallel criticism (Smith and Jordan 1991). A limited number of themes dominate newspaper
coverage, with health, fund-raising, charity, and personal and individual interest stories most widespread. This
unites tabloids and broadsheets, even if the former are particularly prone to dramatize and sensationalize.

A summary audit of the media’s preference for “crippling images” includes a fondness for “wonder cure”
stories, the role of charity appeals, the invisibility of disabled people on television, the stereotyped portrayal
of disabled characters, and the underemployment of disabled people in TV and radio (Karpf 1988). The most
frequently documented cultural stereotypes represent the disabled person as pitiable and pathetic, as an
object of violence, as sinister and evil, as atmosphere or curio, as “super-cripple,” as an object of ridicule,
as their own worst and only enemy, as a burden, as sexually abnormal, as incapable of participating fully in
community life, and as “normal” (Barnes 1992). While the latter stands apart as the sole positive viewpoint, it
remains the least widely expressed, and its representation of “normality” largely ignores the social exclusion
of disabled people. The overall effect is clear:

The general culture invalidates me both by ignoring me and by its particular representations of disability.
Disabled people are missing from mainstream culture. When we do appear, it is in specialized forms—from
charity telethons to plays about an individual struck down by tragedy—which impose the non-disabled world’s
definitions on us and our experience. (Morris 1991:85)

However, this initial focus on disability alone has given way to more complex analyses in which the
representation of disabled people is mediated by other social factors, such as gender, ethnicity, class, and
age. The most detailed studies have focused on the “gendering” of disability in literary texts:

In many instances, the disabled woman is little more than a metaphor through which the writer hopes
to address some broader theme…. Disability seems to undermine the very roots of her womanhood. Not
surprisingly, therefore, the disabled women in these works frequently feel inferior to others and regard
themselves with loathing. (Kent 1987:60, 63)

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Studies have also explored the interaction between definitions of masculinity and disability. Thus, in films
such as Born on the Fourth of July and Waterdance, individuals are portrayed as desperately trying to cope
with the onset of impairment. The polarization of masculine potency and disabled impotency accentuates the
presumption that if it is hurtful to feel unloved, it is much more damaging to be incapable of making love. In
contrast, women are typically represented as vulnerable, passive, and dependent, so that the artistic interest
in portraying disabled women is more focused on their role as tragic or saintly figures who may perhaps be
“saved” by an “able-bodied” man. This reluctance to depict disabled women as sexual beings or in traditional
female roles as wives and mothers is explored by two Australian writers, Helen Meekosha and Leanne Dowse
(1997). They point to the contradiction between the general support by the disabled people’s movement for
images of disabled people in “normal” roles and the desire of feminists to challenge gender stereotypes.

The increasing breadth of the cultural studies literature is demonstrated in its engagement with specific
artworks, texts, and performances. Lennard Davis (1995) traces the development of the “lexicon of disability,”
along with the social construction of “normalcy.” “The implications of the hegemony of normalcy are profound
and extend into the very heart of cultural production (Davis 1995:49). Indeed, he suggests that “one can find in
almost any novel … a kind of surveying of the terrain of the body, an attention to difference … physical, mental
and national” (p. 41). Another significant contributor to the analysis of disability representation in American
culture is Rosemarie Garland Thomson (1997). Her sources include the traditional freak show, sentimental
novels such asUncle Tom’s Cabin, and contemporary African American fiction. She also draws heavily
on diverse theoretical traditions, including contemporary literary, feminist, and social theory, particularly its
postmodern versions, to examine how “corporeal deviance” is a “product of cultural rules” about “able-

Constructed as the embodiment of corporeal insufficiency and deviance, the physically disabled body
becomes a repository for social anxieties about such troubling concerns as vulnerability, control and identity.
(Thomson 1997:6)

Unlike so much of the cultural studies literature, Thomson also explores the appearance of an “active” counter
representation. For example, in the novels of Toni Morrison, “physically disabled or anomalous black women
triumph,” and the novels “repudiate stigmatization itself” (Thomson 1997).

Martin Norden (1994) also advances the understanding of disability representation in his comprehensive
history of cinema. He shows how, going back to Thomas Edison’s 1898 short film, Fake Beggar, stereotypical
and distorted representations of disability were standard fare. As a visual medium, cinema used pictures to
reveal character, and emotional and physical “cripples” were routinely equated. The cinema also inherited
the entrepreneurial traditions of the freak show, or as Cecil B. De Mille remarked, “Affliction is much more
saleable” (quoted in Norden 1994:71).

Norden (1994) traces the development of a range of stereotypes—Elderly Dupe, Saintly Sage, Obsessive
Avenger, Sweet Innocent, Comic Misadventurer, Tragic Victim, Noble War-rior—which are used to oppress
disabled people. However, he does detect positive changes of this imagery as it evolved from the early
exploitative phase (1890s-1930s) through the explorative phase (1930s-1970s) to the incidental phase (1970s
to present). Nevertheless, even in contemporary films, the negative stereotypes still appear.

Similar themes are stressed by Paul Darke in his examination of the representation of disability in films such
as The Elephant Man (Darke 1994) and When Billy Broke His Head and Other Tales of Wonder (Darke 1995).
He categorizes the latter as a rite de passage movie in which Billy Golfus, himself newly impaired after a
motorcycle accident, explores the meaning of disability in America with its strong emphasis on individualistic
(and capitalistic) values. Darke (1998) also explores the concept of “normality drama,” which refers to a genre
that uses abnormal or impaired characters to represent a perceived threat to the dominant view of normality.
As such, it encompasses the cultural rationalization of the social disablement of the person with a perceived

One of the most widely cited attempts to locate an aesthetic and theoretical analysis of bodily representation
with a broader concern toward social and political context is advanced by David Hevey (1992) in his study of
charity advertising, The Creatures That Time Forgot. Hevey examines how British charities “market” particular

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impairments in ways that parallel the “branding” of commercial products in their search for public support. A
hallmark of the early charity approach is the stark image of a person with impairment, usually in black and
white, which centers on their physical “flaw.” Its purpose is to evoke fear and sympathy in the viewer. Charity
advertising is described as “the visual flagship for the myth of the tragedy of impairment” (Hevey 1992:51)
and a highly significant component in the cultural construction of disability.

It represents the highest public validation of the isolation of disabled people. It presents a solution to the
“problem” of disablement by a disguised blaming of the victim. It fails to find a solution because it is itself the
problem. (Hevey 1992:51)

The role of charity imagery in the lives of disabled people has been further linked to the role of pornography
in women’s oppression. In both cases, the focus is on the body, particularly on parts of the body (the breasts/
the impairment). Moreover, the conditions in which the image is produced and interpreted are outside the
control of the subject and involve wider meanings and power relationships (Shakespeare 1994). The aim is
to stimulate an emotional reaction from the viewer that turns the subject into an object of desire or fear. This
has particularly threatening consequences for many disabled women.

There are also dangers here of the advertising industry moving from selling the beautiful and sculptured non-
disabled body to selling the beautiful and sculptured disabled body. For women with degenerative or acquired
disabilities, or illnesses not amenable to physical body sculpting, these images can further demoralize and
undermine their sense of self-worth. (Meekosha and Dowse 1997:97–98)

Nevertheless, there have been recent moves by some charities away from the use of traditional images of
disability to generate public donations. This approach has been categorized as “look at the ability, not the
disability.” Recent campaigns in Britain by SCOPE (formally known as the Spastics Society) have focused
on prejudice and discrimination as constitutive of disability, although they have not dispensed entirely with a
personal tragedy approach. The Leonard Cheshire Foundation followed suit as it shifted its emphasis from
residential homes to other support services by developing a national advertising campaign that focused on
the word enabled. The charity for people with learning difficulties, Men cap, has also sought a new and more
“radical” image. Its tearful “Little Stephen” logo gave way to a more positive representation that embraced
citizenship and social rights, although its advertising images are still dominated by the “desire to market
attractive pictures” (Corbett and Ralph 1994:11).

More generally, through the last quarter of the twentieth century, there has been a discernible rise in more
“positive” cultural and media images of disabled people. Through the 1980s in America, disabled characters
began to appear in advertisements for Levi jeans, McDonalds, and Kodak films (Longmore 1987). There are
also more “disabled” characters (although not all are played by actors with impairment) and disability story
lines in British and American soap operas and dramas. A notable shift in British TV programming was signaled
by the showing in 1994 of Skallagrigg, a mythical hero in stories told by disabled inmates of institutions.
Such examples demonstrate how the media have begun to take “legitimate and conscious account of the film
maker’s or artist’s encounter with and progress through the experience of disability” (Pointon 1997:237).

On a theoretical level, there remain contrasting emphases, with postmodernist, cultural studies approaches
to disability representation relatively more evident in the American literature, compared with the more
sociological studies of disabling imagery provided by British writers. …


Accrediting Commission of Career Schools
and Colleges of Technology. 2002.

Harold B. Post
Revised by

Nancy E. Gratton


Adapted physical education (APE) is specially de-
signed instruction in physical education intended to
address the unique needs of individuals. While the
roots of adapted physical education can be traced
back to Swedish medical gymnastics in the 1700s,
adapted physical education, as practiced today, has
been significantly shaped by the mandates of the In-
dividuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
This act, enacted in 1997, amended the Education
for All Handicapped Children Act, which was enact-
ed in 1975 and stipulated that all children with dis-
abilities had a right to special education.

The IDEA Mandates

Specifically, IDEA defined special education as ‘‘spe-
cially designed instruction, at no cost to parents or
guardians, to meet the unique needs of a child with
a disability, including—(A) instruction conducted
in the classroom, in the home, in hospitals, and in-
stitutions, and in other settings; and (B) instruction
in physical education.’’ The inclusion of physical ed-
ucation in the definition of special education is sig-
nificant for two reasons. First, it identified physical
education as a direct service that must be provided
to all students who qualify for special education ser-
vices as opposed to related services, such as physical
or occupational therapy, that are required only when
they are needed for a child to benefit from a special
education service. Second, it highlighted the impor-
tance of physical education for students with disabil-

IDEA also defined physical education, mandat-
ed that all special education services be delivered in
the least restrictive environment (LRE), and pre-
scribed a management document called an Individu-
alized Education Program (IEP). Physical education
was defined as ‘‘the development of: (A) physical

and motor fitness; (B) fundamental motor skills and
patterns; and (C) skills in aquatics, dance, and indi-
vidual and group games and sports (including intra-
mural and lifetime sports.’’ IDEA further delineated
that ‘‘physical education services, specially designed
if necessary, must be made available to every handi-
capped child receiving a free appropriate public edu-
cation’’ and that ‘‘if specially designed physical
education is prescribed in a child’s individualized
education program, the public agency responsible
for the education of that child shall provide the ser-
vice directly, or make arrangements for it to be pro-
vided through other public or private programs.’’

With respect to LRE, IDEA stated the following:
‘‘To the maximum extent appropriate, children with
disabilities, including those in public or private in-
stitutions or other care facilities, are educated
with children who do not have disabilities;
and . . . special classes, separate schooling, or other
removal of children with disabilities from the regular
educational environment occurs only when the na-
ture and severity of the disability is such that educa-
tion in regular classes cannot be achieved

To ensure that IDEA was implemented as in-
tended, the act required that IEPs must be developed
and monitored for all students who qualify for spe-
cial education. The IEP is developed by a team and
includes the student’s present level of performance;
annual goals and short-term instructional objectives;
specific educational services that will be provided
and the extent to which the student will participate
in regular education programs; any needed transi-
tion services; the projected dates for the initiation
and duration of services; and objective criteria and
procedures for evaluating, at least annually, progress
on the stated goals and instructional objectives.

Finally, IDEA mandated that qualified person-
nel deliver special education instruction. In this con-
text, ‘‘qualified’’ meant that a person has ‘‘met State
educational agency approved or recognized certifica-
tion, licensing, registration, or other comparable re-
quirements which apply to the area in which he or
she is providing special education or related ser-

In summary, the legal basis for adapted physical
education results from the mandates that require
that all students who qualify for special education
must receive physical education. If specially de-
signed physical education is required, then these ser-


vices must be stated in the IEP, delivered in the LRE,
and provided by a qualified teacher.

It is important to note that while IDEA requires
that all students who qualify for special education
have a right to adapted physical education if needed
to address their unique needs, adapted physical edu-
cation is, can, and should be provided to all students
who have unique physical and motor needs that can-
not be adequately addressed in the regular physical
education program. It is not uncommon, for exam-
ple, for many students to have temporary orthopedic
disabilities such as sprained ankles, broken limbs, or
muscle strains during their school years. Short-term
APE programs would be appropriate for these stu-
dents both to assist in the rehabilitation of their inju-
ries and to minimize any fitness and/or skill deficits
that may occur during their recovery. Other students
may have mild physical or health impairments, such
as asthma or diabetes, that do not interfere with their
educational performance enough to qualify them for
special education but that are severe enough to war-
rant special accommodations and considerations in
physical education.

In the United States physical education and
most major sport/recreation programs for youth are
school centered, hence the emphasis on education in
the terms physical education and adapted physical ed-
ucation. In other countries, physical education, rec-
reation, and sport are commonly conducted
independent or outside of the schools and sponsored
by other organizations and agencies. In these set-
tings, the term adapted physical activity may be used
instead of adapted physical education.

Trends and Issues

Although IDEA has provided a sound legal basis for
adapted physical education, there are still a number
of issues that need to be resolved by the profession
to ensure that the physical and motor needs of all
students with disabilities are appropriately ad-
dressed. Two major issues relate to who is qualified
to provide APE services and how decisions are made
regarding the appropriate physical education place-
ment for students with disabilities.

Who is qualified? While IDEA specified that physi-
cal education services, specially designed if neces-
sary, must be made available to every child with a
disability receiving a free appropriate education,
it stopped short of defining who was qualified to
provide these services. IDEA stated that it was the re-

sponsibility of the states to establish teacher certifi-
cation requirements. Unlike other special education
areas (e.g., teachers of individuals with mental retar-
dation or learning disabilities), most states did not
have in place defined certification requirements for
teachers of adapted physical education. Given the
fiscal constraints placed on schools by the mandates
of IDEA, most states were reluctant to place addi-
tional demands on their schools by forcing them to
hire APE specialists. As a result, by 1991 only four-
teen states had actually defined an endorsement or
certification in adapted physical education.

The existence of a mandate that required that
services be provided but that did not define who was
qualified to provide these services created a dilemma
for both teachers and students. In many cases, regu-
lar physical educators with little or no training relat-
ed to individuals with disabilities and/or therapists
with no training in physical education were assigned
the responsibility of addressing the physical educa-
tion needs of students with disabilities. Since these
teachers do not have the prerequisite skills to address
the needs of these students, these needs are largely
going unaddressed. To respond to this situation, the
National Consortium for Physical Education and
Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities (NC-
PERID) created national standards and a voluntary
national certification exam for adapted physical edu-
cation. The adapted physical education national
standards (APENS) delineate the content that adapt-
ed physical educators should know across fifteen
standards. The national exam has been administered
annually since 1997 at more than eighty test sites in
the United States.

While the creation of the APE national stan-
dards and the national certification exam have been
significant steps toward addressing the issue of who
is qualified to teach APE, much more work still
needs to be done. The NCPERID is working with a
small number of states on developing a process
through which states can adopt the NCPERID APE
standards and APE national certification exam as
their state credential. It is hoped that a uniform cer-
tification similar to the APENS exam will be adopted
by all states by 2010, and this issue will be resolved.

How are placement decisions made? The intent of
defining physical education as a direct service, spe-
cially designed if necessary, in IDEA was to ensure
that the physical and motor development needs of
these students were not ignored or sacrificed at the
expense of addressing other educational needs. This


emphasis was warranted given the extensive research
documenting marked physical and motor develop-
ment delays and increased health risks (e.g., coro-
nary heart disease and obesity) in many children
with disabilities. There is also a wealth of research
that has shown that well-designed and implemented
physical education programs can reduce both physi-
cal and motor delays and many health risks in stu-
dents with disabilities. While the intent of the law
was clear, how it has been implemented has been less
then optimal.

What has happened in many schools is that the
majority, if not all, of the students with disabilities
are being dumped into regular physical education
classes. The justification for this practice can be
linked to a number of subissues. First, like many
other problems in the schools, most schools were
not provided with sufficient resources to implement
the mandates of IDEA. Given the need to comply
with legal mandates and limited resources, many
schools were forced to look for ways to meet the let-
ter of the law using their existing resources. Two
particular mandates shaped this behavior. First, part
of the LRE mandate stated that students with disabil-
ities be educated in the regular education environ-
ments to the maximum extent appropriate. Second,
the IEP mandates required only that specially de-
signed services be defined and monitored in the IEP.
Many schools therefore deduced that if they put all
the students with disabilities in regular physical edu-
cation, then they would be addressing part of the
LRE mandate and at the same time avoiding the ad-
ditional time, effort, and costs related to actually cre-
ating specially designed physical education
programs. Fiscally this solution was very attractive
given that most schools lacked qualified personnel
who were trained to assess the physical and motor
needs of students with disabilities and who could
make appropriate decisions regarding what would
be the most appropriate (LRE) physical education
environment in which to address their needs.

Ideally, this practice would have been identified
and stopped during the early years of implementing
the law via the required state and federal monitoring
procedures. Unfortunately, it was not for a number
of reasons. One of the reasons was that the IEP docu-
ment was used as the primary monitoring docu-
ment. Because physical education was not identified
as a needed specially designed service, it was not
monitored. In the rare cases in which parents under-
stood their rights and demanded specially designed

physical education to meet the unique needs of their
child, schools tended to handle these requests on an
individual basis and subcontract to have these ser-
vices delivered.

The approach to stopping the practice of placing
all students with special needs in regular physical ed-
ucation must be multifaceted. The ideal solution
would be simply for schools to hire qualified adapted
physical educators as intended by the law. This solu-
tion, however, is not as simple as it may initially ap-
pear. First, schools would have to recognize that
their current physical education placement practices
were wrong and then be motivated to make a
change. In many schools these practices have gone
on unquestioned for more than twenty years. In ad-
dition, there are no new fiscal resources to hire the
additional teachers needed to correct this problem.
To obtain additional public monies to fund these
positions, schools would have to explain why these
new teachers were needed and why they had not
provided these appropriate services in the past.

Resolving the problem of inappropriate place-
ment of students with disabilities into regular physi-
cal education is important not only for the students
with disabilities but also for the regular education
students and the regular physical education teachers.
Research in the field has repeatedly shown that many
regular physical educators feel unprepared to ad-
dress the needs of students with disabilities and that
trying to accommodate the needs of these students
has a negative impact on all the students in their

Recognizing the dilemma schools face in resolv-
ing this problem, the issue is being addressed at two
levels. The first level is to educate schools and state
departments of education about this problem and
recommend that they develop both long- and short-
term solutions. An example of a long-term solution
would be to require schools to hire certified adapted
physical educators as replacements when existing
physical educators retire or leave for other positions.
An example of a short-term solution would be to use
in-service training programs for school administra-
tors and regular physical educators. These programs
would focus on educating them on what is appropri-
ate physical education and then providing them with
some of the fundamental skills needed to offer a con-
tinuum of alternative placements in physical educa-
tion as intended by the LRE requirements. The
second level is to educate parents via the various par-
ent advocacy organizations regarding their rights


and what should be involved in making an appropri-
ate placement decision in relation to physical educa-
tion. This information would allow parents to make
more informed decisions and to advocate for appro-
priate physical education services for their children.


Through competitive grant provisions associated
with the Education for All Handicapped Children
Act and subsequently IDEA, a number of colleges
and universities have developed pre-service adapted
physical education teacher-training programs. Be-
cause adapted physical education training builds
upon the traditional teacher training in physical ed-
ucation, most adapted physical education training
occurs at the master’s level. Most undergraduate
physical education teacher preparation programs
now include at least one APE course as part of their
required curriculum. In recent years, many regular
physical education teacher-training programs have
also started to offer three- to twelve-credit emphases
or minor areas of study in adapted physical educa-
tion as part of their undergraduate programs. These
emphasis areas typically are composed of one to
three theory courses and one to two practical experi-
ences where the students can apply their APE course

See also: Motor Learning; Physical Disabilities,
Education of Individuals with; Physical Edu-
cation, subentries on Overview, Preparation of
Teachers; Special Education.


Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975.
U.S. Public Law 94-142. U.S. Code. Vol. 20, secs.
1401 et seq.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997.
U.S. Public Law 105-17. U.S. Code. Vol. 20, secs.
1400 et seq.

Kelly, Luke E., ed. 1995. Adapted Physical Educa-
tion National Standards. Champaign, IL:
Human Kinetics.

Rimmer, James H. 1994. Fitness and Rehabilitation
Programs for Special Populations. Dubuque, IA:
Brown and Benchmark.

Sherrill, Claudine. 1998. Adapted Physical Activi-
ty, Recreation, and Sport: Crossdisciplinary and
Lifespan, 5th edition. Dubuque, IA: MCB/

Winnick, Joseph P., ed. 2000. Adapted Physical Ed-
ucation and Sport, 3rd edition. Champaign, IL:
Human Kinetics.


International Federation for Adapted Physi-
cal Activity. 2002. <

National Consortium for Physical Education
and Recreation for Individuals with Dis-
abilities. 2002. <>.

North American Federation on Adapted Phys-
ical Activity. 2002. <

Sportime. 2002. ‘‘Adapt-talk.’’ <www.lyris.>.

Texas Woman’s University. 2002. ‘‘Adapted
Physical Education National Standards.’’

Luke E. Kelly

ADDAMS, JANE (1860–1935)

Founder and driving force behind Hull-House, the
pioneer American settlement house, Jane Addams is
best known for her contribution to urban social ser-
vice; however, she was also an important and in-
fluential educator who espoused Progressive educa-
tional ideas and practice.

Born in the small northern Illinois village of Ce-
darville, Addams was deeply influenced by her fa-
ther, John Huy Addams, a successful self-made
businessman and a strong supporter of Abraham
Lincoln, with a dedication to public service. Al-
though her father was wealthy, Addams found a gen-
uinely democratic community in Cedarville, where
members of different classes mingled freely—an
ideal that she would strive for in her adult career. As
a child, she steeped herself in literary classics and she
was a highly successful student at Rockford Semi-
nary. Like others of this first generation of college
women she was, as her biographer Allen F. Davis
points out, ‘‘self consciously a feminist, not so much
concerned with women’s suffrage as women’s role in
the world’’ (p. 19).

Discovering her own role after graduation did
not come easily. She suffered a long period of illness,


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