Monique Coleman’s Ed.D. Dissertation Defense – Black Mothers of Blind/Low Vision Children: Perspectives and Experiences Of Advocacy and Navigating The Education System
Committee: Dr. Ben Justice, Dr. Beth Rubin, Dr. Shariffa Al-Said
Time: 9:00 am
Blind and low-vision youth represent a diverse, low-incidence disability student population in United States public schools. This qualitative study investigated the perspectives of four Black mothers and grandmothers, each primary caregiver of blind/low vision (BLV) children, related to their experiences with navigating the education system and advocating for their children.
Methods: Individual interviews and a focus group were employed to elicit and explore the caregivers’ lived experiences of special education processes and parental advocacy at the intersections of race, class, and disability. The research was grounded in a critical race theory (CRT) analysis, via Yosso’s (2006) community cultural wealth framework. An intersectionality lens was also applied to explore the ways in which the caregivers’ perspectives and experiences were shaped by their identities as Black women.
Findings: Each of the mothers and grandmothers faced several similar challenges and obstacles as they navigated the school system and advocated for what they perceived to be an appropriate and quality education for their children. By engaging in strategic mothering decisions and drawing on their storehouse of community cultural wealth, the caregivers sustained high levels of parental involvement and experienced key advocacy successes over the course of the school year.
Discussion: The findings provide insights into a segment of the culturally and linguistically (CLD) diverse population of families of BLV children that has received little attention in the extant literature on blindness and visual impairment education. There are several implications for theory and research focused on issues pertaining to Black families of BLV; culturally responsive family engagement practices; and personnel preparation and professional development.