“Everyone Is Normal, and Everyone Has a Disability”: Narratives of University Students with Visual Impairment

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

“Everyone Is Normal, and Everyone Has a Disability”: Narratives of University Students with Visual Impairment


  • Nitsan Almog Department of Education and Societal Studies, Ono Academic College, Israel / Louis and Gabi Weisfeld School of Social Work, Bar-Ilan University, Israel


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Abstract:  University students with visual impairment in Israel and worldwide face multiple academic and social barriers and must develop techniques, strategies and skills to adjust to the university environment. The current article is based on a longitudinal qualitative study aimed at incorporating students’ voices and offers some insight into the ways students experience their academic journeys. The research method combined grounded theory with the emancipatory disability research paradigm, which draws explicitly from people with disabilities’ collective experience and thus directly challenges this group’s widespread social oppression. This combination allowed the researcher to focus on students’ initial experiences as subjectively perceived. Sixteen students all defined as legally blind, from four universities in Israel, were interviewed over a 2-year period of their studies. The findings present two complementary narratives the interviewees used while configuring their identities. The article will focus on findings that suggest that during their academic journeys, students needed to manage a process of integrating their identity both as disabled and as students, choosing when and where to perform each identity and determining what the implications of each choice were along with each one’s related costs and benefits. The study’s implications and recommendations can help professionals and support services improve inclusion and equality in higher education.

Keywords:  disability studies; higher education; identity; students; visual impairment

Published:   6 December 2018


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v6i4.1697


© Nitsan Almog. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.