Teachers’ Perceptions of Disabilities on the Island of Roatán, Honduras

Cornelia Schneider


Purpose: Roatán, a small island in Honduras, is home to six ethnic groups. Due to financial constraints, many children have limited access to schooling. This article is a study on teachers’ perceptions of disabilities and students with disabilities and inclusive education on the island.

Method: Twenty seven teachers working in public and private schools, and schools funded by the World Bank, were interviewed in March-April of 2014 in order to explore cultural and social representations of disabilities on the island.

Results: The findings show that many of the teachers’ representations can be analysed under the lens of different models of disability - the medical model, the social model, and a religious-moral model. Inclusive education is perceived less as a means of including children with disabilities in the regular classroom, and more as a method of creating institutions to take care of their needs.

Conclusion: There is a strong intersection of poverty, post-colonialism and disability which makes working under an inclusive lens very difficult for teachers. The cultural norms influence ideas of normalcy and disabilities, and the blame is on parents for having children with disabilities.


Disabilities; inclusion; models of disability; poverty

Full Text:



Allport GW (1954). The nature of prejudice. Addison Wesley: Cambridge. PMid:13204492

Alquraini T, Gut D (2012). Critical components of successful inclusion of students with severe disabilities: Literature review. International Journal of Special Education; 27(1): 42-59

Avramidis E, Norwich B (2002). Teachers' attitudes towards integration/inclusion: A review of the literature. European Journal of Special Needs Education; 17(2): 129-147. https://doi.org/10.1080/08856250210129056

Barnes C, Mercer G (2010). Exploring disability: A sociological introduction (2nd ed.). Polity Press Cambridge, UK: Malden, MA.

Bickenbach JE, Chatterji S, Badley EM, Üstün TB (1999). Models of disablement, universalism and the international classification of impairments, disabilities and handicaps. Social Science & Medicine; 48(9): 1173-1187. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0277-9536(98)00441-9

Burke K, Sutherland C (2004). Attitudes toward inclusion: Knowledge vs. experience. Education; 125(2): 163-172

Clandinin DJ (Ed.) (2007). Handbook of narrative inquiry: Mapping a methodology. Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks, Calif.; London, UK. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781452226552. PMCid:PMC4065867

Clandinin DJ, Connelly FM (2000). Narrative inquiry: Experience and story in qualitative research (1st ed.). Jossey-Bass Publishers: San Francisco, CA. PMCid:PMC2583024

Consiglio A, Guarnera M, Magnano P (2015). Representation of disability. Verification of the contact hypothesis in school. Procedia - Social and Behavioural Sciences; 191: 1964-1969. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.04.408

Filmer D (2008). Disability, Poverty, and Schooling in Developing Countries: Results from 14 Household Surveys. The World Bank Economic Review; 22(1): 141-163. Available from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40282267. https://doi.org/10.1093/wber/lhm021

Goffman E (1968). Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity. Penguin Books: Harmondsworth

Herlihy L H (2012). The mermaid and the lobster diver. Gender, sexuality, and money on the Miskito coast. University of New Mexico Press: Albuquerque, NM

Horne PE, Timmons V (2009). Making it work: Teachers' perspectives on inclusion. International Journal of Inclusive Education; 13(3): 273-286. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603110701433964

Kabzems V, Chimedza R (2002). Development assistance: disability and education in Southern Africa. Disability and Society; 17 (2):147–157. https://doi.org/10.1080/09687590120122305

McEwan C, Butler R (2007). Disability and development: Different models, different places. Geography Compass; 1(3): 448-466. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-8198.2007.00023.x

Miles S (1996). Engaging with the disability rights movement: The experience of community-based rehabilitation in Southern Africa, Disability & Society; 11 (4): 501-518. https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599627561

Miles S, Singal N (2010). The education for all and inclusive education debate: Conflict, contradiction or opportunity? International Journal of Inclusive Education; 14(1): 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603110802265125

Mucina DD (2011). Story as research methodology. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples; 7(1): 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1177/117718011100700101

Murphy RF (1990). The body silent. W.W. Norton: New York.

Murphy-Graham E (2009). Constructing a new vision: Undoing gender through secondary education in Honduras. International Review of Education / Internationale Zeitschrift Für Erziehungswissenschaft / Revue Internationale De l'Education; 55(5/6): 503-521. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11159-009-9143-2

Murphy-Graham E (2012). Opening minds, improving lives. Education and women's empowerment in Honduras. Vanderbilt University Press: Nashville: Oliver M, Barnes C (1998). Disabled people and social policy: From exclusion to inclusion. Longman: London

Oliver M (1996). Understanding disability: From theory to practice. Macmillan: Basingstoke. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-24269-6

Opoku M, Badu E, Moitui J (2015). Towards an inclusive society in Cameroon: Understanding the perceptions of students in University of Yaounde II about persons with disabilities. Disability, CBR & Inclusive Development; 26(2): 92-103.

Pine A (2008). Working hard, drinking hard: On violence and survival in Honduras. University of California Press: Berkeley

Power M (2001). Geographies of disability and development in Southern Africa. Disability Studies Quarterly; 21 (4):84–97. https://doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v21i4.320

Ross-Hill R (2009). Teacher attitude towards inclusion practices and special needs students. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs; 9(3): 188-198. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-3802.2009.01135.x

Sells JN, Giordano FG, Bokar L, Klein J, Sierra GP, Thume B (2007). The effect of Honduran counseling practices on the North American counseling profession: The power of poverty. Journal of Counseling and Development; 85(4): 431-439. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.1556-6678.2007.tb00611.x

Shakespeare T (1996). Rules of engagement: Doing disability research. Disability & Society; 11(1): 115-119. https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599650023380

Smith RM (1997). Varied meanings and practice: Teachers' perspectives regarding high school inclusion. Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps; 22(4): 235-244. https://doi.org/10.1177/154079699702200411

Stiker H (1999). A history of disability. University of Michigan Press: Ann Arbor

United Nations (2000). United Nations Millennium Declaration. Available from: http://www.unmillenniumproject.org/documents/ares552e.pdf

Wilson S (2008). Research is ceremony: Indigenous research methods. Fernwood Pub: Black Point, NS.

World Health Organisation (2010). Community-based rehabilitation: CBR guidelines. World Health Organisation: Geneva.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5463/dcid.v28i2.573


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 Cornelia Schneider

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Supported by:


© Disability, CBR & Inclusive Development