Ideological Constructions of Disability in Higher Education Health Related Programmes: Human Rights or What?
The study used textual data derived from 32 medical and other health related higher-education programmes outlines available on five Cypriot universities websites. The analysis brought to the surface a number of ‘discursive absences’ that manifest the scarcity of disability-related considerations. In general, the language used or not-used indicates the prevalence of an individual and deficit oriented approach to disability. Terminology and the context in which disability is presented, seem to be relevant to the approach adopted based on the field of study and related scientific discipline, the majority of which lie under the individual model of disability. Findings suggest the inadequacy of these programmes to conceptualise disability as an issue of ‘cultural politics’. Hence, it is argued that HE programmes should primarily concentrate on reconceptualising and redefining disability as a political and human rights issue. This can be partly achieved by changing negative and discriminatory attitudes towards disability and by enabling health professionals to problematise their own assumptions and misconceptions about disability while nurturing their social and ethical responsibility to view their patients as rights bearing subjects.