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Negotiating Legitimacy and Belonging: Disabled students’ and Practitioners’ experience

Presenters: Yael Mayer, Laura Yvonne Bulk, Tal Jarus

Originally played on February 27th, 2024

Description: People with disabilities are under-represented in health professions education and practice. Barriers for inclusion include stigma, disabling discourses, discriminatory program design, and oppressive interactions. Current understandings of this topic remain descriptive and fragmented. Existing research often includes only one profession, excludes particular types of disability, and focuses on one aspect of the career journey. To expand understanding, we examined the recurrent forms of social relations that underlie the participation of disabled individuals in learning and practice contexts across five health professions. We will share findings from studies in which we found that participants experience challenges to their sense of legitimacy and belonging as health providers. They describe tensions within health education and practice between the commitment to inclusion and the day-to-day realities experienced by disabled students and healthcare providers. Through this WITA, we are eager to continue our ongoing conversations about how we can engage in anti-ableist education and practice.


Yael Mayer is a mother, a partner, a daughter and a clinical psychologist. Yael is leading the BELONG lab at the University of Haifa; her scholarship is focused on belonging and inclusion of equity-seeking communities and enhancing equity, diversity, and multiculturalism in highly polarized societies. Yael studies the interplay between social and political contexts, identity development, and mental health. In all her studies, she strives to create impactful research that promotes social justice.

Laura Yvonne Bulk is a daughter, friend, cousin, tante; she is a Dutch settler to W̱SÁNEĆ territory; she is a first-generation university student, a disabled scholar, and an occupational therapy educator. Her educational leadership focuses on promoting justice (right relationship) and building spaces of belonging as people from equity-denied groups and in distributed education.

Tal Jarus is a queer, white, cis woman, settler, who immigrated to Canada 17 years ago. She live as an uninvited guest on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh people. In the past few years her career is dedicated to social justice transformation, including focused research on justice and equity in the health and human service professions, in particular looking at the facilitators and barriers for the participation of students and clinicians from equity denied groups in those professions.


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