Judith Baele, Inge Van de Putte and Elisabeth De Schauwer are working in the field of Disability Studies at Ghent University. The university does not have one big campus, but is dotted around the city. This gives possibilities for many connections with the city of Ghent and its citizens.
When educating our students, we actively honour and strengthen the connection with lived experiences of children and families of children who are labelled as disabled and/or different. In our research and educational tradition we have put emphasis on the importance of listening to the little stories of people with a disability and their parents. We strengthen these voices in our everyday teaching and research practices.
We have different courses designed on the principles of community service learning. Students come into close contact with several situations of children in disadvantaged circumstances doing homework or giving extra support in class, helping youngsters to set up LGBTQ+ information for their family and school, supporting parents in searching for adequate leisure activities, strengthening female self-advocates in what is means to be a woman, working with schools on healthy meals for all children…
In our research we deconstruct categories and binary thinking between able/disable, normal/abnormal, sick/healthy, appropriate/non appropriate behaviour… We invest in actively tracing barriers and lower these barriers, when we encounter difference in (pedagogical) relations.
We don’t just do research about people, we work together with them, amplifying their voice. We share our workspace with Onze Nieuwe Toekomst – Our New Future, a self-advocacy organisation of people with a disability and Parents for Inclusion of parents who are looking with their children for an inclusion across the lifespan, but with a particular focus on regular education. We work in and with the praxis of inclusion on a daily basis, on an individual and on a structural level.