Enhancing Diversity: Chapter 1, Identifying the Issuescontinued . . .
These and many other questions also arose through our contacts with prospective and practicing educators who have disabilities, in our conversations with teacher-educator colleagues who wondered how they should respond to students with disabilities in their teacher-education programs, and from others we met during presentations of our work at professional conferences. Our attempts to answer the myriad questions for ourselves and others quickly made two points clear. One, issues involving educators with disabilities are often complex and typically not amenable to simple solutions. As such, they can create confusion, frustration, and even worse results among individuals with disabilities, parents, teacher-educators, administrators, advocates, policy makers, and others. Two, from a scholarly standpoint, we really did not know enough about the experiences of educators with disabilities and other pertinent information to form well-grounded answers.

Our instincts told us that little information was available on educators with disabilities, and those instincts were confirmed after we searched the literature. We uncovered a few separate, individual writings on educators with disabilities, rather than connected products of research agendas. We found little that was data-based, which should not have been surprising as disability statistics are less commonly collected than other demographic data, even by agencies such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which does not count the number of individuals with disabilities who are either employed or unemployed. With the exceptions of the American Association for the Advancement of Science's longstanding Project on Science, Technology and Disability and the multifaceted but short-lived project in the late 1970s on educators with disabilities sponsored by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education under a contract with the American Council on Education's (then) Higher Education and the Handicapped Project, we found no institutional efforts to effect changes to benefit educators with disabilities. (See chapter 13 in this volume for further descriptions of both projects.)

Given the stories we were hearing, we were reluctant to presume that the lack of information meant that educators with disabilities were having little difficulty with their education, employment, and accommodations. We concluded that few educators, researchers, administrators, or policy makers appeared to be interested in this area, even though education has long been a civil rights battleground. Unless you are a person with a disability, particularly one who has tried to pursue a career in education, the topic of educators with disabilities may never have crossed your mind, which is basically what happened with Clay until his meeting with Sarah. The lack of interest, however, quickly disappears once you are drawn as a participant into the problems faced by educators with disabilities--say, for instance, as a parent who sees her daughter who had had a brain tumor kept from realizing a career choice for which she does have the capabilities and desire, or as a professor who wonders if he did the right thing by talking a student who is blind out of a teacher-preparation program in secondary education, or as a supervisor who is not sure if the provision of certain accommodations to a teacher with learning disabilities will mean that the teacher is no longer fulfilling the responsibilities of her position. In most individuals, interest in these issues is not absent; rather, it is dormant until participation in a situation awakens it.

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