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"I'm Unlearning!" Applying Reflexivity to Higher Education Disability Services as a Tool for Supporting Students with Intersectional Identities

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Although the higher education disability services field requires considerable use of professional judgment to make accommodation-related decisions, there is a lack of guidance on how to carry this out in day-to-day interactions with students. When drawing on personal and professional experiences, disability services professionals are directly guided by their own positionality, which is their collective identities and experiences, and therefore - for better or for worse - their biases as they determine accommodations for students with disabilities. To better understand these influencing identities and the role of positionality in the disability services profession, this presentation will share themes that emerged from thirteen semi-structured interviews with disability services professionals that focused on their perceptions of the relationship between their positionality and their work. Further, we will invite attendees to examine their own positionalities through an interactive activity where they will pinpoint influential aspects of their identities. This presentation will conclude with a large group discussion focused on the implications for practitioners in regard to seeing our own positionalities and their role in our work. In addition to discussing implications for practice with attendees, the presenters will guide the conversation around reflexivity, or consciously examining when and where our positionalities may influence our choices and interactions as disability services professionals.


  • Morgan Strimel

    Morgan Strimel is a doctoral candidate in the Policy and Research-Intensive Special Educators (PRISE) doctoral training program at George Mason University, where she worked as an Access Consultant for Disability Services and a Learning Strategist for the Mason Autism Support Initiative (MASI Program). Based on her time in higher education, Morgan’s current research is focused on enhancing postsecondary education experiences for disabled college students through the framework of socially-just disability resources.

  • Jamilah Anderson

    Jamilah Anderson is the Associate Director of Disability Services at George Mason University. She received her BA in Music from the University of Richmond and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership (Administration and Supervision) from Virginia Commonwealth University. In her nearly 20-year career in education, she has spent over 15 years working with and advocating for people with disabilities in the community, K-12 and post-secondary environments. After her K-12 experiences as a special educator, school-based administrator, and then district-level administrator, she made a professional transition to higher education to join Disability Services at George Mason University as the Associate Director of the Mason Autism Support Initiative in 2018. She has been the Associate Director of Disability Services since February 2020.

April 4, 2023
Tue 1:00 PM EDT

Duration 1H 30M

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