Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Ann Fudge Schormans




Receiving equitable access in order to participate in post-secondary education is often a struggle for students with disabilities. This issue is not only alarming for the field of social work but also for post-secondary schools of social work. Literature that examines the challenges that students with disabilities encounter often reinforces a bio-medical model perspective, which consequently can further marginalize this population. In contrast, this research study is guided by a social model understanding of disability and conceptualizes disability as an act of social oppress ion. Using a critical disability framework, this thesis examines the personal experiences of students with disabilities to gain a better understanding of how the McMaster University School of Social Work supports its students with disabilities in regards to inclusion and their academic needs.
This thesis examines students with disabilities' experiences in areas such as the admissions process, academic accommodation s, disclosure, classroom setting, field practicum, faculty/administration support, and feelings of inclusiveness. Findings suggest that students with disabilities experience discrimination and their rights being violated by faculty and field placement staff members in regards to disclosure of their disability and obtaining accommodations. These issues seem to stem more from a lack of understanding from faculty/staff members about providing accommodations than a malicious act. Normative assumptions carried by faculty about students also seemed to contribute to students with disabilities' rights being violated. This research study also supports the literature that students with disabilities often have to engage in extra work in comparison to their non-disabled peers. The implications of this research stud y suggest that the McMaster University School of Social Work needs to be more proactive with addressing issues of disability. Adopting a social model understanding of disability and providing training for staff members are approaches that the School of Social Work can take to develop a more inclusive learning environment.

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