Original Research

The subjective experiences of students with invisible disabilities at a historically disadvantaged university

Carushca de Beer, Serena Isaacs, Cameron Lawrence, Gugulethu Cebekhulu, Jade M. Morkel, Jonathan Nell, Noluthando Mpisane, Wayne P. van Tonder, Yolanda R. Mayman, Lobisa Z. Thobenjane, Athena Pedro
African Journal of Disability | Vol 11 | a932 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v11i0.932 | © 2022 Carushca de Beer, Serena Isaacs, Cameron Lawrence, Gugulethu Cebekhulu, Jade M. Morkel, Jonathan Nell, Noluthando Mpisane, Wayne P. van Tonder, Yolanda R. Mayman, Lobisa Z. Thobejane, Athena Pedro | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 August 2021 | Published: 10 June 2022

About the author(s)

Carushca de Beer, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Community and Health Science, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
Serena Isaacs, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Community and Health Science, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
Cameron Lawrence, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Community and Health Science, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
Gugulethu Cebekhulu, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Community and Health Science, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
Jade M. Morkel, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Community and Health Science, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
Jonathan Nell, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Community and Health Science, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
Noluthando Mpisane, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Community and Health Science, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
Wayne P. van Tonder, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Community and Health Science, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
Yolanda R. Mayman, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Community and Health Science, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
Lobisa Z. Thobenjane, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Community and Health Science, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
Athena Pedro, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Community and Health Science, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa


Share this article

Bookmark and Share

Abstract

Background: Despite policies that promote inclusivity of students with various challenges, students with invisible disabilities at higher learning institutions may encounter various levels of stigma and marginalisation. This primarily stems from a lack of awareness about what invisible disabilities encompass, and very importantly, how they affect those who live with them.

Objective: This study explored the subjective experiences of students with invisible disabilities at a historically disadvantaged university.

Method: This study used a qualitative approach to facilitate the exploration of the subjective experiences of students with invisible disabilities. Twelve students with invisible disabilities were interviewed online via Google Meet platform, using semi-structured interviews. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using a thematic analysis.

Results: Three thematic domains were identified, invisibly disabled students’ subjective experiences within the context of (1) home and community, (2) university life and (3) support offered at their university.

Conclusion: This study’s findings highlight the importance of awareness of invisible disabilities in higher education. Support for students with invisible disabilities, and breaking down the barriers to it, can compound better experiences in the lives of those who have invisible disabilities. Targeted awareness campaigns could contribute to more mindful learning and teaching practices and improve the overall experience of these students. This information can also be used to promote awareness of students with invisible disabilities in higher education institutions.


Keywords

invisible disability; higher education; awareness; support; policy; stigma; historically disadvantaged university; disability units

Metrics

Total abstract views: 844
Total article views: 2109


Crossref Citations

No related citations found.