Working Alongside People with Intellectual and Learning Disabilities

Disability Theory

Exploring dominant discourse

In this section our aim is to provide you with a very basic understanding of how disability theory locates intellectual disability. We believe that it is important to understand the epistemological forces that shape people when you work alongside of them. There are a range of ideas that shape how people (with ability) understand people with intellectual and developmental disabitlies. The way that you understand this difference is the key to how you will respond to a person labeled as disabled. This is a short tour through history to show how the past shapes our understanding of all disability labels including intellectual disability today.

If this kind of information is what you are looking to understand in more depth we are happy to provide it to you at a training session. It is our view that this knowledge which exposes how people with intellectual disabilities have been abused, neglected and victimized throughout much of human history is important in giving you insight into what they do, why, and how this shapes who they are in each day. It also sets the framework within which we (people without this difference) treat them. When we look to history we need to be aware that we can not imply the concepts norms and mores of contemporary society onto the past as a way of revising, demeaning or romancing the past. However it is important to understand where we have come from in setting a path for where we want to go.

When we are referring to discourse here we are talking about what Foucault (1969:121) describes as 'the group of statements that belong to a single system of formations: thus I shall be able to speak of clinical discourse, economic discourse ….' In this text we are reading disability discourse meaning the language (group of statements) that belong to disability.

Read more here > Pre Enlightment Period
Download Disablity Theory PDF

WWILD Sexual Violence Prevention Program is funded by the Department of Communities, QLD. & the WWILD Victims of Crime Disability Training Program is funded by the Department of Justice and Attorney-General, QLD

WWILD Phone: (07) 3262 9877 Email: info@wwild.org.au Address: 211 Hudson Road, WOOLOOWIN QLD 4030 Contact hours: Monday to Friday 8.30am - 4.30pm