Pre-service Teachers Listen to Families of Students with Disabilities and Learn a Disability Studies Stance

  • Janet Story Sauer University of Colorado Colorado Springs
  • Christi Kasa University of Colorado Colorado Springs


One feature of successful education includes valuing families. This paper describes an on-going study of the impact of having pre-service teachers learn about special education from the families of students with disabilities. Using a Disability Studies theoretical framework, we examined pre-service teachers' archival work from an Introduction to Special Education course to learn how they interpreted families’ perspectives and experiences. The data was procured from University students’ papers based upon informal family interviews and observations. Qualitative analysis revealed three overarching themes: pre-service teachers acknowledged students with disabilities and their families were complex and valuable resources, showed a shift in their views and attitudes such as questioning constructs of normalcy, and gained an understanding that their role included being inclusive advocates.

Author Biographies

Janet Story Sauer, University of Colorado Colorado Springs
Assistant Professor Special Education Department
Christi Kasa, University of Colorado Colorado Springs
Associate Professor Department of Special Education, Chair