CFP: Special Issue of Literacy, ‘Literacies and Disability’

Guest Editors: Owen Barden & David Bolt

Disability, in the field of education, is often conceptualised along the lines of accessibility and/or so-called Special Educational Needs. When we think of disability in relation to literacy, too often the focus seems to be on notions of access, support, and interventions that seek to make learners conform to (or at least approximate) curricular literate norms.  While these issues are of great importance, and critical engagement with them is to be encouraged, they only represent part of what we are interested in here. Envisaging a more profound version of inclusion, our focus in this special issue is on acknowledging ontologies and epistemologies of disabled people, and specifically how these are mediated through interactions with texts.   Through doing so, we seek to explore more complex understandings that recognise disability in terms of indifference, difficulties, and qualities, in accordance with the tripartite model. We aim to help shift the debate from regarding inclusion merely as a legal and moral imperative, to valuing it as an educational opportunity. As David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder argue in The Biopolitics of Disability (2015), until disability is recognised in the context of alternative lives and values that neither enforce nor reify normalcy, we cannot fully appreciate the material and ethical alternatives disabled people‚Äôs lives manifest. We take the view that students, scholars, educators and other professionals interested in literacies should celebrate diverse bodies and minds as forms of expertise, meaning that disability can become an active, unabashed, and less stigmatised part of educational discourse. The aim of this special issue, then, is to encourage appreciation of disability through presenting examples of such alternative literacies expertise.

We welcome reports of recent empirical research on intersections of disability and literacies; informed and analytical accounts of innovative practice which fosters appreciation of diverse bodies and minds; critiques of recent policy developments and examination of their impact; and theoretical explorations that contribute to our understanding of the relationships between disability and literacy. Submissions should conform to the standard author guidelines for Literacy.

Potential topics for submission might include, but are not limited to:

  • Literacies, voice and disability
  • Literacy policy and disability
  • Disability, literacies and literature
  • Disability and new/digital literacies
  • Disability and multimodality
  • Literacies in disability lifewriting
  • Methodological issues/approaches in researching disability and literacies
  • Conceptualising/theorising disability and literacies
  • Literacies and normalcy
  • Embodiment and literacies; how literacy practices are mediated through diverse bodies and minds
  • Literacies and stigma
  • Disabled identities and literacies
  • Representations of disability in curricular texts


  • Call issued May 2019
  • Deadline for submissions January 2020
  • Publication January 2021

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