Academic Responsabilities: Challenging Ableist Perspectives in Public Speaking Programs

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Alabama Libraries

The introductory public speaking course is often the first time students are exposed to the Communication field and recruits students into the discipline. This creates an increased need to revise and update the public speaking course to be as inclusive as possible. Currently, around one in four adults live with a form of disability in the U.S., with that number projected to increase (Okoro et al., 2018), yet public speaking programs are not inviting to students with disabilities due to ableist norms embedded within the course. Ableist assumptions that all students can/will deliver a presentation similarly are problematic because it inadvertently centers able-bodied students. Inspired by my experience teaching students with intellectual and developmental disabilities in a public speaking course, this dissertation is an intervention to assess ableist assumptions and practices within public speaking programs and offers recommendations to reassess public speaking to reconsider the standards for what constitutes an effective speaker. Through my experiences, I found it important to explore the ableist and disablist viewpoints in public speaking curricula, instruction, and assessment tools.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
ableism, Disability studies, instructional communication, public speaking, speech, speech pedagogy