Queer Theory, Accessibility, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the Classroom

Dr. Kristin LaFollette (she/her)

(Sponsored by Division of Information Technology)

2021 Disability Summit
April 13, 2021 – 2:50 PM-3:20 PM

Email: klafollett@usi.edu


Traditionally, there have been attempts to “pass,” “fix,” or “retrofit” spaces to make them more accessible for students with disabilities. “Passing” treats individuals as if they have no disability (so no changes are made to a space), “fixing” attempts to change the person rather than the space, and “retrofitting” is an “additive, not re-imaginative, ideology” where accessibility is an afterthought (Yergeau 2014). “Hacking,” on the other hand, provides a way for individuals with disabilities to “reinvent social and material spaces” (Dolmage 2008, Yergeau 2014).

This presentation specifically focuses on hacking classrooms to develop accessible and safe spaces for students with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Hacking, rather than passing, fixing, or retrofitting, questions traditional classroom spaces and creates an environment of inclusivity and accessibility where the instructor and the students build spaces of understanding and collaboration.

I use a queer lens and build upon the definition of queer theory as “a theoretical approach that…question[s] the categories and assumptions on which current popular and academic understandings are based” (Barker 2016). I argue that hacking is a form of queering traditional norms in academia and in classroom spaces and, using queer theory as a springboard, I outline the physical and bureaucratic roadblocks students with PTSD face. Through sharing experiences I had with students who self-identified as having PTSD, this presentation emphasizes the pedagogical power of hacking and describes strategies that instructors can use to involve their classes in hacking activities that create inclusive and accessible spaces.

Presentation: PPT | PDF


Kristin LaFollette is an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern Indiana where she teaches courses in writing, rhetoric, and gender studies. A writer, photographer, and artist, her creative-critical work focuses on arts-based approaches to research and pedagogy, cultural rhetorics, and women’s and gender studies.