In this chapter, we examine narratives of inclusion and exclusion told by professional performers with lifelong impairments who are successfully leading “inclusive” lives in order to bring their voices and experiences to the attention of academics, educators, policy makers, and service providers. We draw on stories told during in-depth interviews with 10 disabled comedians conducted as part of a larger project on the complex seemingly paradoxical relationship between disability and humor. We take an interpretive approach to our data collection and analysis consistent with principles of the emancipatory tradition in disability studies. These performers clearly value the inclusive childhoods their families provided. As children, they were educated in inclusive settings and participated in a wide variety of activities – often centering on the performing arts. Their rich and varied experiences (even the negative ones) have provided both fuel for performance and confidence to push back against attempts by others to exclude them from social and professional life in the everyday world. Their inclusive childhoods, however, are not entirely without a downside. In many cases, they did not develop a sense of disability pride, or even a disability identity, until they had opportunities to interact with others who have impairments during the transition to adulthood. For children raised in more inclusive settings, a conscious effort to provide opportunities to engage with other children and adults with impairments may be an important adjunct to inclusion.
Green, S.E. and Bingham, S.C. (2017), "“I Could have so Easily been Excluded”: Exploring Narratives of Inclusion and Exclusion in the Lives of Professional Performers with Disabilities", Working with Families for Inclusive Education (International Perspectives on Inclusive Education, Vol. 10), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 11-29. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-363620170000010006
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