Disability, Augmentative Communication, and the American Dream: A Qualitative Inquiry

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9781498520874: Disability, Augmentative Communication, and the American Dream: A Qualitative Inquiry
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Disability, Augmentative Communication, and the American Dream is a collaborative effort to tell the life story of Jon A. Feucht, a man who was born with a form of cerebral palsy that left him reliant on a wheelchair for mobility, with limited use of his arms and an inability to speak without an assistive communication device. It is a story about finding one’s voice, about defying low expectations, about fulfilling one’s dreams, and about making a difference in the world.

Sociologist C. Wright Mills famously called for a “sociological imagination” that grapples with the intersection of biography and history in society and the ways in which personal troubles are related to public issues. Disability, Augmentative Communication, and the American Dream heeds this call through a qualitative “mixed–methods” study that situates Feucht’s life in broader social context, understanding disability not just as an individual experience but also as a social phenomenon. In the tradition of disability studies, it also illuminates an experience of disability that avoids reading it as tragic or pitiable.

Disability, Augmentative Communication, and the American Dream is intended as an analytical and empirical contribution to both disability studies and qualitative sociology, to be read by social science scholars and students taking courses in disability studies and qualitative research, as well as by professionals working in the fields of special education and speech pathology. Written in an accessible style, the book will also be of interest to lay readers who want to learn more about disability issues and the disability experience.

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About the Author:

Ronald J. Berger is professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater and author of fifteen books, including Introducing Disability Studies and Hoop Dreams on Wheels: Disability and the Competitive Wheelchair Athlete.

Jon A. Feucht earned his master’s degree in special education at the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater and is a doctoral student in educational leadership and policy at East Tennessee State University.

Jennifer Flad is assistant professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater.

Review:

This is a collaborative work by University of Wisconsin-Whitewater sociologists Berger and Flad with education professor Feucht, who as a man living with cerebral palsy recounts his experiences in schooling, his achievement of a master's degree in special education, and his development of a summer camp program for adolescents using augmentative communication devices. The first chapter reviews critical disability studies research in theory and method. It is very concise and perhaps one of the most comprehensible treatments of the contradictions and promises of that field and emancipatory-participatory methods. . . .[A]n important contribution to disability studies and exemplary in its collaborative methodology. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All academic levels/libraries. (CHOICE)

Ronald J. Berger, Jon A. Feucht, and Jennifer Flad follow through on C. Wright Mills’s promise of the sociological imagination. They make a significant contribution to the field of disability studies by illuminating the socio-historical context of Jon’s everyday life as they articulate his experience with cerebral palsy. (Jeremy L. Brunson, Gallaudet University)

This instructive book provides a fine-grained glimpse into the life of a man with cerebral palsy—his flaws and self-doubts, his real problems and real achievements. Grounded in a mixed qualitative methods study of one young man as an agent of change, the book is a concrete example of research that engages all three co-authors in a process inquiry, reflection, and learning. This book realizes its ambitious goal to help readers understand disability not just as an individual experience but also a social phenomenon in which we all participate. (Laura Lorenz, Brandeis University)

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