disability, inclusion, social justice


In much the same way as the racial integration movement, advocates for students with disabilities (SWD) have cultivated an active and vocal lobby seeking to establish and then implement legal mandates to integrate classrooms in the hope that social acceptance would follow. Through federal mandates such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), conceptually initiated in 1975 and revised in 2004 as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) along with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, these students have a voice to cry out for access to the experiences of work, conversation and play with their peers. This study explores the impact that classroom efforts to offer "inclusion" have on their nondisabled peers' intent to include their fellow SWD in their lives as students. Using survey research methods and guided by the Theory of Planned Behavior (Aizen, 1985), 593 responses were obtained from a convenience sample of 936 third, fourth and fifth grade students educated in 52 classrooms spread across 6 different schools in two counties (Seminole and Orange) in Central Florida. Survey results were also collected from the students' parents and their teachers and used to add a richer depth to the data analysis. The data was compiled and analyzed using mean comparison tests (T test and One & Two way ANOVA tests) and a multinomial logistic regression equation. SPSS 13.0 was used to compute the impact that independent variables (integration and interaction) had on the dependent variable (intent to include). The results suggest that the integration of SWD had a significant impact on nondisabled peers; yet efforts to promote peer interaction seemed to have a mixed result. Additionally, the students' gender (female), the students' prior exposure to SWD and a positive teacher attitude toward people with disabilities also had a significant impact on the response of students' intent to include SWD. The results of this analysis are presented along with a discussion of these findings in relation to public policy initiatives to promote the social inclusion of community members. Limitations and recommendations for future research are also indicated.


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Graduation Date





Abel, Eileen


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Health and Public Affairs

Degree Program

Public Affairs








Release Date

July 2008

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)