Detailed Program of the Conference

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The current Conference time is: 9th Aug 2022, 08:59:13am CEST

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Overall view of the program
Parallel sessions - D.6.2 The Disability Studies approach in the analysis of educational inequalities and in the structuring of contrasting measures
Friday, 04/June/2021:
5:15pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Fabio Bocci
Session Chair: Alessandra Maria Straniero
Session Chair: Simona D'Alessio
Location: Room 6

Session Panels:
D.6. The Disability Studies approach in the analysis of educational inequalities and in the structuring of contrasting measures

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Giulia Lampugnani

University of Milano Bicoca, Italia

In Lombardia the emergency event in world of education started on February 24th in Italy, when firsts universities and school closed, because of starting of COVID-19 pandemic.

Children were confined both at home with few attentions of public opinion and scientific research (Musso & Cassibba, 2020).

The study aimed at exploring lived experience of adolescents, listening to their voices and from an insider point of view, both in education and relationship,
throughout the first year of pandemic restriction in Italy.

Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith et al., 2009), data are being collected and analysed, since May 2020, involving in recursive semi-structured interviews 17 students of Secondary school (7 in 1st Grade, 10 in 2nd grade), who previously lived also the condition “defined” as Specific Learning Disabilities, such as dyslexia (MacDonald, 2009). (cfr. Mortari, 2010; Mortari & Saiani, 2013).

Preliminary results suggest that many students have used the first quarantine (March-May 2020) to develop their approach to learning e reflexivity with personal advantages; all they also felt less difficulties than previously, thanks to extensive and inclusive use of technology, less time required for school, and personal strategies. More, they observed teacher in extreme difficulty in teaching through technology, such as they had lived the first period after dyslexia diagnosis, feeling incapable to learn because of some concrete barriers.

Situation changed in Dad (distance schooling) during autumn 2020, until the last period (Feb-March 2020), where unpredictable timing of school test and work, a large amount of homeworks, greater unsupported difficulties and a break of mutual trust with teachers sounds challenge and discourage adolescents’ hope to come out of a general pandemic situation, to succeed and be motivated in learning.

This study, actually developing, open in deep how adolescents are living this unprecedented period, offering to pedagogic reflection strategies they developed or suggested for all the class from their own experience.

Moreover, this research has having a deep transformative impact on participants, who want to share their experience but also find in it a sustain to reflection and emotional elaboration and a motivation.

In the pandemic period in which each student has a special need because of a new challenging context of living and experiencing, because of distance, of sufferance in social, familiar or psychological context, can this pedagogical reflection –conducted from the point of view of students accustomed to use technology, to reflect and to make an effort to find different ways and new motivation to succeed in learning- be useful towards an inclusive re-projection of learning and living education contexts?

Macdonald, S. (2009). Windows of Reflection: Conceptualizing Dyslexia Using the Social Model of Disability. Dyslexia, 15 (4), 347-362.

Mortari L.(a cura di). (2010). Dire la pratica. Milano-Torino: Bruno Mondadori.

Mortari, L., Saiani, L. (2013) Gesti e pensieri di cura. Milano: McGrawhill.

Musso, P., Cassibba., R. (2020). Adolescenti in tempo di Covid-19: dalla movida alla responsabilità. Psicologia Clinica dello sviluppo, 2, 187-190.

Smith, J.A., Flower, P. and Larkin, P. (2009), Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis: Theory, Method and Research. London: Sage.


Umberto Zona, Martina De Castro

Roma Tre University, Italy

The "disabled condition" is a social construct/construction with a strong socio-relational implication, which manifests itself in human relationships dominated by the culture of norm/normality. Disabled people, in fact, are considered on the basis of impairment and disabled by a society that, if it does not directly produce the disability, certainly imposes the material, psychological and affective conditions in which it is experienced. This mechanism produces an "ableist" narrative of disability, often characterized by a compassionate/pitying approach, steeped in rhetoric and clichés, still widespread in the social imaginary, that it has crept into the digital devices that we consult every day. If, for example, we ask the virtual assistants installed on our smartphones "Sei disabile?", "Sei handicappato?" or "Hai un ritardo mentale?", we receive an "embarrassed" response from them, going so far as to apologize "for making us angry" and suggesting to send feedback - negative? - to the company producing the device. (Zona and De Castro 2020). This is one of the many demonstrations that the terms "disabled" and "handicapped" refer to a presumed incapacity and/or inability to be kept hidden and that, despite the fact that in various contexts of life an attempt is being made to overcome the medical-individual model in favor of a cultural and social view of disability, the latter continues to be perceived, narrated and experienced as a guilt. Fortunately, a significant part of the disabled community, especially the younger generation, refuses to be told by an external voice and, in the last period, has chosen platforms such as Youtube to build a first-person narrative of their condition through powerful and provocative videos, in which issues such as sexuality, addiction, power relations, environmental crisis are addressed from an intersectional perspective. By autonomously constructing their own narratives, YouTubers with disabilities talk about the stereotypes and prejudices that they face on a daily basis, denounce the inadequacy of the mainstream representation that the media offer of "their condition", accuse the medicalizing attitude and the performative perspective that the ableist society imposes on them and proudly show that they feel part of a community that rejects any sexist, racist and classist normativity. An ecosystem like YouTube thus becomes a space where communities and minorities, silenced or rather rendered invisible by traditional media, can speak out and share their views. It is a powerful means of cultural contamination and a truly inclusive environment, in which subjects, while respecting their peculiarities, have the opportunity to challenge cultural models and dominant power relations, but above all to consciously self-manage their own selves. This is a perspective that deserves to be taken into account by all those teachers and educators who care about an idea of education based on inclusion and contamination and who, in accordance with the model of Disability Studies, believe that people with disabilities have the right to live their condition as active protagonists.


Zona U., De Castro M. (2020). Edusfera. Processi di apprendimento e macchine culturali nell’era social. Lecce: PensaMultimedia.


Alessandra Maria Straniero1, Gianmarco Bonavolontà2, Valentina Domenici2, Fabio Bocci2

1Università della Calabria, Italia; 2Università Roma Tre, Italia

Social representations of the body with disabilities have for centuries been associated with the idea of illness, lack, or abnormality. The body with disabilities has been seen as a monstrum, as a malformed body, the expression of a sin and a fault; as a sick body to be rehabilitated, as an infantile body. This way of representing the “disabled body” ended up orienting both attitudes and the social treatment of disabled people, through concealment, segregation, confinement, reification within domestic or institutional contexts. At most, the disabled body is object of pietistic glances, between disturbance and curiosity. For some years now, however, we have been witnessing a redefinition of what is considered a body worthy of being shown on the public stage: models with prosthesis win beauty contests; athletes show with ease their prosthesis; war wounded pose on calendars; many films and tv series have non-standard or non-conventional protagonists, far from the western cultural norms. Is this an important cultural shift or a form of defense by the social system which incorporates the otherness in order to normalize it?

This paper intends to focus attention around the social representations of disability according to the theoretical and interpretative perspective of Disability Studies, that highlight how much the image of disability held at the collective level and common sense is based on the concepts of ableism and dependence.

The results of this research conducted with a specific survey tool will be presented, on the basis of a sample of male and female secondary school students.

The purpose of the survey is to investigate the social representations of disability held by young people, paying particular attention to the sense of justice and fairness, to dichotomous ideas of independence/dependence, care/assistance, the claim of rights/sense of pity, legitimate/illegitimate body.


Bocci F. (2020). L’abilismo e i corpi intralciati nella rappresentazione mediale. In F. Gomez Paloma (Ed.). Embodiment & School (pp. 126-133). Lecce: PensaMultimedia.

Bocci F. & Bonavolontà G. (2020). Tecnologia e diversità nelle rappresentazioni mediali. Un’analisi di due prodotti seriali per la televisione. Ricerche Pedagogiche, LIV(214): 53-68.

Bocci F. & Domenici V. (2013). La rappresentazione complessa della disabilità nel cinema contemporaneo. Analisi de Le Scaphandre et le Papillon di Julian Shnabel. Ricerche Pedagogiche, 187: 17-24.

Bocci F. & Domenici V. (2019). La diversità nelle narrazioni seriali contemporanee. Un’analisi critica dei processi di incorporazione e immunizzazione. Italian Journal of Special Education for Inclusion, VII( 2): 416-429.

Bocci F. & Straniero A.M. (2020). Altri corpi. Visioni e rappresentazioni della (e incursioni sulla) disabilità e diversità. Roma: RomaTre-Press.

Monceri F. (2012). Ribelli o condannati? «Disabilità» e sessualità nel cinema. Pisa: ETS.

Stiker H.J. (1982). Corps infirmes et sociétés. Essais d’anthropologie historique. Paris: Dunod.

Vadalà G. (2013). La rappresentazione della disabilità tra conformismo e agire politico. In R. Medeghini, S. D’Alessio, A.D. Marra, G. Vadalà & E, Valtellina. Disability Studies. Emancipazione, inclusione scolastica e sociale, cittadinanza. Trento: Erickson.


Alessia Cinotti, Elisa Farina

University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy

This paper aims to point out some attitudes and practices of teachers that may constitute forms of discrimination within pre-school and primary schools. These attitudes, apparently “non-threatening” and often naïve, hide nevertheless forms of discrimination that reflect the mechanisms of a wider society (D’Alessio, 2011). This means that the micro school context tends to absorb and/or reproduce the current social representations (e.g. “sick to be cured”, “eternal child” - Lepri, 2011) present in society on one hand and to create ground where disabling processes mirroring society are grafted. These disabling processes do not promote the emancipation and self-determination of "children with disabilities" in their life perspective. Social representations, as Lepri stated, once produced and used throughout history are never definitively exhausted and still dominate cultures, practices and policies (Booth and Ainscow, 2002), interpreting disability as an individual pathology and/or a care issue. In this scenario, we carried out a research within the Training Courses for Support Teachers (University of Milano-Bicocca), involving 153 students who filled in a semi-structured questionnaire. One of the aims of the questionnaire is to investigate the naive conceptions and misconceptions that support teachers to carry within themselves (Calvani et. al., 2017). From a first analysis of the data, through the Qualitative Content Analysis, it emerges clearly the caring attitude of the support teacher who tends to replace the “children with disabilities” and propose him/her simplified and reduced tasks because support teacher wants to preserve the student from more challenging and complex learning outcomes and protect him/her from ordinary growth experiences (e.g. conflicts with peers, frustration due to the fatigue of learning, tolerance of waiting times etc.). This attitude can be traced back to a naive conception that tends to label "children with disabilities" as a uniform mono-category ("All disabled children are the same and for that reason some strategies could be good for all"), made up of students who are perceived as hardly able to progress (" fact they cannot really change") in a bio-medical model ("The disability is in the child"). The school context, in this way, runs the risk of not offering “students with disabilities” an environment in which the child is called upon, for example, to make choices, to deal with others, to play an active role. These are necessary experiences, from an early childhood, to become "causal agents of their own lives" (self-determination), enabling “children with disabilities” to acquire skills useful for taking on social roles which are recognised by society and which are meaningful for the person itself (Cottini, 2021). By offering children tasks that go more in the direction of “training” (e.g. infantilising learning outcomes) in a one-to-one relationship with the support teacher, rather than opportunities for meaningful learning in integrated and collective situation, the school reduces educational possibilities and opportunities by creating a possible form of discrimination.


Marianna Piccioli

Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italia

The Cultural Model provides critical tools for reflection in relation to the construction of meanings within our culture and, in particular, within the culture that develops within schools. What are the meanings expressed by schools within the documentation they produce? Through what language do schools present themselves to the outside world and to society? What are the ideas that are conveyed through the use of this specific language? It is precisely from the reading and analysis of the Three-Year Plans of the Educational Offer (PTOF) of the Institutes including Tuscany that the reflections, not at all, final of this work will come, showing what are the terms that are used within these documents, what ideas are conveyed and on what values are based.


Matteo Maienza

Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy

Music therapy has acquired over the years a gradual process of medicalization generated by the need to provide evidence-based results in the treatment and rehabilitation of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Otherwise, the goal of music as therapy should not be to propose music as a kind of remedy or cure, but to promote relationships between individuals, to acquire a collective awareness thanks to the communicative potential of music. Modern approaches can rely on Disability Studies as a ground to move in this direction, in a humanistic perspective, centering on culture, orienting on resources rather than defects and discussing the roles of power in the therapeutic relationship.

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