Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching & Learning


A milestone for special education was reached in November. 1975, when the United States Congress passed Public Law 94:142, The Education for All Handicapped Act. Major implications of this document were that disahled children, ages 3-21, now were given an equal opportunity for a free public education; disabled children, would receive that education in the least restrictive environment; due process would be applicable; and the law would be implemented to ensure an education for the disabled ages 3-18 by 1978, and 3-21 by 1980. A result of this law is that disabled children are entering the public school, and a portion of that number are mainstreamed into regular classrooms for at least part of the school day. The integration of the disabled into regular classrooms necessitated healthy attitudes toward disabled that focused on the person rather than on the disability and the acceptance of the disabled as worthwhile productive individuals. Since attitudes may be conveyed through printed materials, it seemed appropriate to examine materials that are. used by teachers and children. A review of the literature indicated that the only studies to date that summarized the image of disabled in educational materials were in children’s literature. This researcher perceived the need for an investigation of the image of the disabled in other materials used by teachers and students. Materials selected for study were professional journals and basal reading series.

The following research questions were investigated: (1) Are exceptional persons visible in educational journals? types of information are included? Are biased attitudes reflected? Who is the specific audience, teachers, administrators, or others? (2) Are exceptional persons visible in children's reading text-- books? To what degree? How are they represented? Are they engaged in meaningful activities with others? Are. biased attitudes reflected in either textual or pictorial representation? Does the language used by the author convey negative attitudes?

Exceptional persons were defined within the following categories: intellectual disability is subnormal intellectual development that creates deficiencies in academ and social learning; physical disabilities; emotional disable i re es include a breakdown in interpersonal relationships and perceptions o.' reality, unpredictability and instability; speech disorders; sensor 1 . >J:ilities are impairments of sensory organs including blindness, partially sighted, deafness and hard of hearing. Multiple disabilities will refer to all categories of disabilities.

Materials selected were the journals: Teacher, Instructor, Early Years, Language Arts and The Reading Teacher. Textbooks studied were the Impression Series, Houghton-Mifflin; Keys to Reading, Economy; Reading 720, Rainbow Edition, Ginn and Company; Basics in Reading, Scott, Fnresman; and the American Book Reading Program, the American Book C upany.

Analysis of the data revealed the following:

Exceptional persons were visible, in teacher journals in articles r inly addressed to teachers. Overall, 2,7 percent of the articles in ournals for the years examined were about this group. Of these artic es, 57 percent were about disabilities in general. Most of the articles, 80 percent, covered a range, of ages of exceptional persons.

Thirty percent of the articles were about instructional procedures, 18 percent of them were about mainstreaming, 37 percent of them were about such miscellaneous topics as labeling, special education trends, teacher training, and the remaining were about classroom management, information on disabilities and screening procedures. The language of the authors in every instance was not offensive.

More stories that included disabled characters in narratives were found in intermediate textbooks than in primary textbooks. Mere exceptional characters appeared in illustrations and skills lessons in primary textbooks than in the narrative.

Data on the disabled in textbooks revealed that more disabled males than disabled females were visible. More adults including senior citizens were depicted as disabled characters. Sixty-seven percent of the disabilities were physical in origin. Nearly 70 percent of the disabled characters were Caucasian. Characterization and language were generally positive.