Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

Kenneth Williams

Second Advisor

John Ungerleider


The focus of this capstone is verbal language spoken to or about persons with disabilities. Language in this case study is discussed as words and phrases that are supportive and less supportive of how students see themselves, their identity, and sense of achievement. Three focus groups were held with students at Landmark College in Putney, Vermont to collect samples of their experiences and input their voices into this case study, adding value and depth to the existing literature. Disability is looked at through the lens of multiculturalism; as experiences that people with disabilities have with others and their environment are different than those of people who are able bodied, creating different cultural identities. This capstone defines disability, and perceptions of disability, as well as attitudes and the shift over time toward a social model of disability where it is viewed as a social construct: people are not disabled, rather, society is disabling. The history of education with a focus on disability is discussed with further attention paid to viewing education and language from the position of assets versus deficits. Pertinent questions around disability are addressed; does less supportive language around disability stem from only partial knowledge about their abilities, and the assumptions that follow. Or can language change to become more affirming, as increased exposure to what we may not understand helps us to respect the differences and experiences of others more fully.


Accessibility | Civic and Community Engagement | Community-Based Research | Disability and Equity in Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Family, Life Course, and Society | Inequality and Stratification | Social and Behavioral Sciences