Volume 1, 2015
Practices in Pedagogy
Thinking Critically about Disability in Biomedical Ethics Courses
Several studies have shown that nondisabled people—especially healthcare professionals—tend to judge the quality of life of disabled people to be much lower than disabled people themselves report. In part, this is due to dominant narratives about disability. Teachers of biomedical ethics courses have the opportunity to help students to think critically about disability. This may involve interrogating our own assumptions, given the pervasiveness of ableism. This article is intended to facilitate reflection on narratives about disability. After discussing two readings that illustrate the medical and social models of disability, I share my own approach to teaching on disability in my biomedical ethics course. I include student responses to the readings and ways that they report their thinking about disability changed through engagement with the medical and social models.