Semiotics and Dis/ability

Interrogating Categories of Difference

Edited by Linda J. Rogers & Beth Blue Swadener

Subjects: Cultural Studies
Paperback : 9780791449066, 295 pages, March 2001
Hardcover : 9780791449059, 295 pages, March 2001

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents


Linda J. Rogers and Beth Blue Swadener

PART I. Theoretical and Cultural Framing

1. Engaging Anthropology in Disability Studies
Devva Kasnitz and Russell P. Shuttleworth

2. Searching for the Cure: Virtual Disability and Collective Action in an Electronic Support Group
Gerald Gold

3. View From the Ivory Tower: Academics Constructing Disability
Robin M. Smith

4. Symbolic Contexts, Embodied Sensitivities, and the Lived Experience of Sexually Relevant Interpersonal Encounters for a Man with Severe Cerebral Palsy
Russell P. Shuttleworth

Shareholder Commentary
John C. Rossiter

PART II. Personal Narratives of Confronting Disability: Insider/Outsider Embedding and Disembedding

5. Semiotics of Accessibility and the Culture of Disability
N. Kagendo Mutua

6. A Mother's Construction of the Semiotic Self
Nancy Stockall

7. Advocating for Full Inclusion: Mother's Narratives
Asha Saini

Shareholder Commentary
Mara Sapon-Shevin

PART III. The Semiosis of Engagement: At/In/About and With

8. Personal Assistance Service and Youth in Transition
Marissa Nicole Shaw

9. Both Emic and Etic: A View of the World Through the Lens of the Ugly Duckling
Robertta Thoryk, Patricia Roberts, and Angela M. Battistone

10. The Miller Method: An Early Intervention Program to Help Young Children with Autism Make Meaning in Their Lives
Christine E. Cook

11. The Meaning of Disability for Grandparents of Young Children with Special Needs
Elizabeth Lane Brennan and Philip L. Safford

Shareholder Commentary
Tim P. Karash

Epilogue: After and Into the Narrative Frame
Linda J. Rogers, Beth Blue Swadener, and Tembinkosi Nyangiwe

End Notes: Semiotically Digesting Dis/ability
Floyd Merrell and Myrdene Anderson



Examines the ways that the labels "disability" and "difference" are socially and culturally constructed.


This book brings together a unique collection of personal narratives and summaries of studies that problematize existing meanings of "disability" and "difference." Using applied semiotics as an analytical lens, the contributors examine the ways that these labels are socially and culturally constructed. Contributors include anthropologists, teacher educators, special educators, disability studies scholars, educational psychologists, American Sign Language instructors, semioticians, school psychologists, linguists, and parents. Each author was asked to examine his or her experience(s) and consider the "markers" of lives that are considered different.

Linda J. Rogers is Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at Kent State University and Executive Director of the Semiotic Society of America. She is the author of Wish I Were: Felt Pathways of the Self. Beth Blue Swadener is Professor of Early Childhood Education at Kent State University and the coeditor (with Sally Lubeck) of Children and Families "At Promise": Deconstructing the Discourse of Risk, and author (with Margaret Kabiru and Anne Njenga) of Does the Village Still Raise the Child?: A Collaborative Study of Changing Child-Rearing and Early Education in Kenya, both published by SUNY Press, and coeditor (with Shirley A. Kessler) of Reconceptualizing the Early Childhood Curriculum: Beginning the Dialogue.


"I have to confess that even a grizzled old veteran like me was thoroughly engaged in these stories and wished for more." — Donald J. Cunningham, Indiana University, Bloomington