Disability studies pioneer to be honoured in Chicago

Professor Lous Heshusius (right) of York’s Faculty of Education will be honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to the field of disability studies in education at the 3rd Annual Second City Conference on Disability Studies and Education in Chicago.

Established in 2000, the lifetime achievement award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the field of disability studies and education.

“Lous Heshusius is one of the pioneers in critical special education and a significant influence on today’s scholars of disability studies in education,” said Valerie Owen, Chair of the conference committee. “Lous was selected from a list of senior disability studies and critical special education scholars across the United States and Canada by the conference planning committee for her pioneering work in this area of study.”

Heshusius will receive her award during a special ceremony at the conference, which takes place June 19-21 at National-Louis University in Chicago. The conference will explore the interplay between disability and education and will provide a forum on critical issues surrounding special education and disability studies, or DS. The theme of this year’s conference is “Traversing the Chasm between Disability Studies and Special Education”.

“The people who are giving me this award are grounded in disability studies,” said Heshusius. “They look at ‘difference’ through the lenses of cultural studies – seeing difference as a social/political construction, and making social justice and equity the focus of their efforts instead of special education’s obsession with measuring and ranking.

“My work has consistently critiqued the latter, and I think that DS scholars view my work as having helped to pave the way for them to get off the ground in education.” Disability studies in education as a scholarly focus has existed only for a few years, she pointed out.