Zimbabwean Disability Activism From a Higher Education Perch

An uncertain present but exciting future

Authored by: Martin Musengi

The Routledge Handbook of Disability Activism

Print publication date:  November  2019
Online publication date:  October  2019

Print ISBN: 9780815349303
eBook ISBN: 9781351165082
Adobe ISBN:


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Well-meaning interventions for people with disabilities in the education system can have unintended negative effects which hinder rather than enable intended beneficiaries. Often it is difficult for authorities to realise the unintended outcomes of interventions and this suggests that those who implement policies and work directly with people with disabilities should engage in a new kind of activism to remedy the situation. This chapter analyses the rationale and manner in which an academic leads disability activist practices in a Zimbabwean higher education landscape which is largely oblivious of the unintended outcomes of its interventions for people with disabilities. Analysis is grounded on an emerging activist ethos which initially focuses on individual initiatives but is aimed at collectively protesting ableism and rethinking human rights, not only in the restricted higher education area but in a democratic, extended sense in society generally. To this end, the chapter discusses ableism in deaf education in Zimbabwe before analysing emergent activism in higher education institutions. The discussion revolves around leadership initiatives which complement the collective activism of the Deaf 1 community and disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) in general.

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