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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation-ISU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Department of Special Education

First Advisor

James R. Thompson


This dissertation reports the results of a mixed methods study examining the perceptions of Illinois Directors of Special Education (DOSE) about concepts in Disability Studies in Education (DSE): Disability Civil Rights, Authentic Disability Voice, Inclusive Practices, and Competency/Capability/Supports-Oriented Approaches.

In an online survey, 64 DOSE rated their perceived knowledge of DSE concepts, and rated their perceived relevance of the topics to their role. Additionally, ten DOSE participated in one-on-one interviews to examine how (a) they perceived supports and obstacles that impact their implementation of DSE concepts; (b) they perceived their influence on students with disabilities regarding DSE concepts; and (c) activities align with DSE concepts. Finally, an elite interview was conducted where findings from the survey and interviews were reviewed and discussed.

Survey data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and DOSE interview data were analyzed using the constant comparative method of analysis (Merriam, 1998). Most DOSE: (a) rated their knowledge within the middle range--this indicated a shortage of DSE concepts in their repertoire; (b) perceived DSE topics as relevant; and (c) identified internal supports and external supports necessary to implement DSE concepts. Internal supports included leadership skills (i.e., character, values, relationship building), and specified their professional background, knowledge, skills, and active involvement. External supports included professional discourse, staff attitudes/expectations, and having enough specific resources. Obstacles identified included stakeholders' attitudes and interpretations, varied values and existing culture of a system, formal government structures, a consistent lack of resources, and competing priorities.

Findings are relevant to educator certification programs, continuing education, K-12 curriculum development, providing leadership in implementing special education services, and disability studies programs. To promote positive change, it is recommended that DOSE and DSE scholars develop professional partnerships to support their efforts with implementing DSE concepts. This study's limitations are identified and recommendations for future research are discussed.


Imported from ProQuest Dinaro_ilstu_0092E_10138.pdf


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