Yasmin Snounu

Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

Teacher Education

Committee Member

Joe Bishop, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ethan Lowenstein, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Christopher Robbins, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kristine Ajrouch, Ph.D.


Utilizing a critical ethnographical methodology, this dissertation explores the experiences and practices of professors and administrators towards accommodating disabled students mainly in Palestine, but also taking into consideration the importance of the both political and disability contexts of the United States, primarily in light of critical disability studies, while also drawing from critical discourse analysis in regard to aspects of language, power hierarchies, and identity. Elements of teacher development theories are used in relation to transformational ways of thinking and the role of educators in combating stigma and promoting/adopting inclusive pedagogical practices towards accommodating disabled students in higher education. My understanding of experiences and practices of Palestinian and American faculty and administrators in higher education is derived from semi-structured interviews, observations, field notes, and pictures between October 2015 and December 2015, and September and December 2017. My findings show that disability in Palestine is associated with Israeli apartheid, creating what I call “a triple matrix of maiming Palestinians.” Such a matrix begins with targeting the Palestinian body, then continues to destroy the Palestinian infrastructure, and finally maintaining dominance. It creates internal divisions and scattered efforts towards disability services and also impacts the ability of the Palestinian Authority to serve the Palestinian people. Secondly, the complexity of stigma in Palestine includes heroic stigma, resulting from Israeli practices, which is positive, and stigma that is associated with disability from birth, which is perceived negatively. Most importantly, my findings show that Palestinian higher education institutions are a promising arena for providing an educationally inclusive environment under apartheid conditions. My study also shows that Palestinian

faculty and administrators advocate for disabled students on campus and local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) contribute to serve disabled Palestinians, but the work of the NGOs still exhibits discrepancies. In the U.S., unclear policies for professors on how to handle accommodations for students with disabilities and lack of training on inclusion create ableism. Stigma is still salient in the academic discourse and is connected to race and social status, generating “racialization of disability.”