"If It Wasn't My Race, It Was Other Things Like Being a Woman, or My Disability": A Qualitative Research Synthesis of Disability Research

Shehreen Iqtadar, David I. Hernández-Saca, Scott Ellison


This Qualitative Research Synthesis (QRS) explored how K-16 students of color make meaning of their disability labels and negotiate the prevailing dominant ideologies surrounding dis/ability labels, race, gender, and other forms of identity. Scholars in Disability Studies in Education (DSE) have explored critical connections between Disability Studies (DS) and Critical Race Theory (CRT) (Annamma, Connor & Ferri, 2013; Erevelles, Kanga & Middleton, 2006). This study identified such critical connections by synthesizing 13 qualitative studies from 2006-2018 and explored the lived experiences of students of color labeled with disabilities. Our goal for this QRS was to advance the theoretical work in DSE through a synthesis of qualitative literature within the field. QRS is a methodologically rigorous approach that "uses qualitative methods to analyze, synthesize, and (re)interpret the results from [existing] qualitative studies" (Major & Savin-Baden, 2010, p. 10). We employed a resistance theory of disability at the intersections (Gabel & Peters, 2004; Giroux, 1983a, 1983b), that foregrounded the psycho-emotional disablism model of disability (Thomas, 1999), to recognize that students' acts of resistance directly relate to systematic oppression within the education system. Findings from our second order thematic analysis suggest that students identified disability labels as an assigned identity, which limited their educational opportunities and left a psychological and emotional impact on their well-being. However, students also used multiple strategies and acts of resistance to negotiate the stereotypical master narratives surrounding their intersectional identities. Through a timely methodological and conceptual counter-narrative of its own within educational equity research, our QRS contributes to theory, research, and praxis, with implications for a more humane and just education system for all students.


Qualitative Research Synthesis (QRS); K-16; students of color; DisCrit; intersectionality; Identity Work; intersectional disablism

Full Text:


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v40i2.6881

Copyright (c) 2020 Shehreen Iqtadar, David I. Hernández-Saca, Scott Ellison

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Volume 1 through Volume 20, no. 3 of Disability Studies Quarterly is archived on the Knowledge Bank site; Volume 20, no. 4 through the present can be found on this site under Archives.

Beginning with Volume 36, Issue No. 4 (2016), Disability Studies Quarterly is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license unless otherwise indicated. 

Disability Studies Quarterly is published by The Ohio State University Libraries in partnership with the Society for Disability Studies.

If you encounter problems with the site or have comments to offer, including any access difficulty due to incompatibility with adaptive technology, please contact libkbhelp@lists.osu.edu.

ISSN: 2159-8371 (Online); 1041-5718 (Print)