Hiram College

Several students are conducting fascinating research – and presenting their findings at regional and national conferences. Assistant Professor of Psychology Michelle Nario-Redmond and four of her students will be presenting at the Society for Disability Studies 23rd Conference – Disability in the Geo-political Imagination, June 2 – 5, 2010, at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Nario-Redmond says the students’ presentations center around four research studies they conducted. They examined the efficacy of disability awareness and empathy programs, and whether or not these efforts truly increased empathy toward disabled populations. “This is pretty exploratory,” she says. “There’s not a lot of data out there at all as to what these programs do. Do they improve understanding? Or do they increase the idea that the disabled are helpless?” The students also explored “qualitative, open-ended meanings ascribed by disabled people to various disabilities. ‘What does disability mean to you?’ How do they define disability?”

Sarirose Hyldahl ’11, Dobromir Gospodinov ’12  and Nario-Redmond will present their research study titled, “Definitional discontinuities: A two-study cross impairment investigation of how insiders’ define disability as a function of cultural identities, impairment subjectivities, and socially disadvantaged status.” Gospodinov, Hyldahl, Adam Roark ’11 and Nario-Redmond will present their research paper, “Is it okay to be a crip for the day?”

With Nario-Redmond, Hyldahl, Gospodinov, Roark and David Lawrence ’10 will also serve as panelists at the international conference. They will discuss their ongoing, original research “The evolution of disability prejudice research: From existential fear and thwarted curiosity to evolved disease avoidance and paternalistic pity: Disentangling the empirical evidence on the curious and distaining reactions to perceived vulnerability.”

Nario-Redmond says, “We’re presenting a 90-minute panel, and the experts are these students. We’ve been researching and reviewing literature all year on disability prejudice; where does it come from? This is an interdisciplinary conference with activists with disabilities and scholars and even performance artists, and there are presentations in multiple formats. You meet people doing all kinds of things in the humanities and the social sciences. We’re going to educate on what we currently know about what contributes to avoidance, to prejudice, and interestingly, to inspiration – how people gain inspiration from disabled people. So we will present this; then we’ll open it up to questions.”

The Society for Disabilities conference presentations in June come on the heels of these students’ participation at the Ohio Undergraduate Psychology Research Conference in April, where Gospodinov, Hyldahl and Roark gave oral presentations of their papers.

For more information about the Society for Disability Studies, go here.

For more information about the Ohio Undergraduate Psychology Research Conference in April, go here.