Oral Presentation The 26th International Nursing Philosophy Conference 2023

Let’s Talk about Disability in Nursing: Igniting Possibilities through Critical and Neomaterialist Perspectives (#54)

Elizabeth Straus 1
  1. Re-Vision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

It is well-acknowledged that disabled people frequently experience discrimination, poverty, barriers to accessing health care and education, and poorer health outcomes, which have been significantly amplified in this uncertain (post)COVID world. Yet, despite these inequities and that 1 in 6 people worldwide are estimated to be disabled, disability often receives little attention in nursing knowledge development and praxis. This presentation aims to prompt dialogue about disability in nursing, through considering the influence of various understandings of disability in nursing and health care and explore what critical disability studies can bring to nursing knowledge development and praxis. I will begin by tracing the influence, critiques, and limitations of medical and social models of disability that are most prominent in health and social care. I will then extend the dialogue beyond the social model to argue for the potential of critical disability studies, as an assemblage of perspectives, and specifically a feminist materialist processual ontology of disability, to prompt a radical rethinking of disability beyond the medical and social models in nursing and health care in a way that can open up new possibilities for addressing discrimination, access, and well-being with disabled people. As an ontology of the bodymind as fluid, entangled, and always becoming through its continual interaction with socio-material worlds and of disability as created through the coming together of bodyminds and (ableist) worlds, a feminist materialist processual ontology rethinks disability in ways that trouble the very category of normal and questions attempts to pre-determine what a (disabled) body can do. Epistemological, methodological, and praxis implications of this ontological shift will be discussed. A final provocation for nursing will be offered.