Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - NLU Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Disability and Equity in Education

First Advisor

Dr. Jan Valle

Second Advisor

Dr. Terry Jo Smith

Third Advisor

Dr. Dean Adams


Adolescents with Cerebral Palsy who do not speak and use augmentative and assistive technology often experience conversations that disregard their modes of communication or exclude them. Ableism centered on communication and technology is often at the root of how these adolescents are talked about, talked over, or left out of communication. I used a post-modern and post-human qualitative research approach, plugging in theory, literature, song lyrics, and my personal experiences as an insider, as the mother of an adolescent with Cerebral Palsy who does not speak. I conducted conversations with youth collaborators and interviewed their mothers about perceptions, theirs and others, of what it means to communicate. Insights into conversations that allow us to become and be who we are, rather than identities we are assigned, focused on patience, presence, and a belief in presumptive competence.

Available for download on Monday, September 22, 2025