Editorial
Issue Date: July/August 2021
Published Online: July 07, 2021
Updated: July 13, 2021
Disability Studies and Occupational Therapy: Renewing the Call for Change
Author Affiliations
  • Elizabeth A. Harrison, OTD, OTR/L, is PhD Candidate, Department of Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Alisa Jordan Sheth, PhD, OTR/L, is Assistant Professor, School of Occupational Therapy, Pacific University, Hillsboro, OR
  • Jacqueline Kish, MS, OTR/L, is PhD Candidate, Department of Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Laura H. VanPuymbrouck, PhD, OTR/L, is Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, Rush University, Chicago, IL
  • Jenna L. Heffron, PhD, OTR/L, is Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY
  • Danbi Lee, PhD, OTD, OTR/L, is Assistant Professor, Division of Occupational Therapy, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle; danbilee@uw.edu
  • Lisa Mahaffey, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, Midwestern University, Downers Grove, IL.
Article Information
Advocacy / Education of OTs and OTAs / Multidisciplinary Practice / Rehabilitation, Participation, and Disability / Guest Editorial
Editorial   |   July 07, 2021
Disability Studies and Occupational Therapy: Renewing the Call for Change
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2021, Vol. 75, 7504170010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2021.754002
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2021, Vol. 75, 7504170010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2021.754002
Abstract

Disability studies (DS) is an interdisciplinary field grounded in a minority studies philosophy that approaches disability as a socially constructed phenomenon. The first special issue of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy on DS was published in 2005. The present issue serves as a follow-up to highlight opportunities for and examples of DS integration into occupational therapy education, research, and practice. Studies in this special issue reflect a DS approach to research that prioritizes lived experiences, critical approaches, and participatory methodologies. Reported interventions focus on changing societal barriers rather than remediating individual impairments and acknowledge instrumental activities of daily living often neglected by traditional research. Studies on educational practices in occupational therapy have found persistent issues around negative attitudes toward disability and many opportunities to better infuse disabilities studies into curricula. Revisiting DS as it applies to occupational therapy has shown that many of the issues and considerations raised in 2005 remain in the field today. Recommendations across articles in this special issue highlight that advocacy and working for broader social change are essential for occupational therapy practitioners, given ongoing occupational injustices for people with disabilities. Infusing DS ideas into occupational therapy can promote greater alignment with priorities of disability communities and spur professional change to dismantle oppressive structures and ideologies.