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Enacting disability policy through unseen support: the everyday use of disability classifications by university administrators

Cox, N (2017) Enacting disability policy through unseen support: the everyday use of disability classifications by university administrators. Journal of Education Policy, 32 (5). pp. 542-563. ISSN 0268-0939

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Abstract

In the United Kingdom (UK), Higher Education Institutions share with other educational providers the duty to provide reasonable adjustments for students who disclose disabilities. The role of academic administrators in the operationalisation of legislation-driven policy related to disability within the university context is overlooked within empirical and theoretical literature, and explicit recognition of the administrative role is often reduced to descriptions of bureaucratic processes and training requirements. This paper makes an empirical and theoretical contribution by explicitly recognising the unique operational and personal practices of educational administrators as they undertake disability-related work. Drawing upon a larger ethnographic study that employed observation, in-depth qualitative interviews and discourse analysis, the findings start to reveal the subtle interactional practices that administrators undertake during their everyday work with people disclosing of a disability; these revelations offer indicators for future staff training and development.

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