Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




College of Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Sheena Kauppila

Second Advisor

Toni Saia

Third Advisor

Annemarie Vaccaro


Eight disabled white women disability services directors shared their experiences working in disability services in higher education. The ten principles of disability justice provided the framework for this interpretative phenomenological analysis. Individual interviews were used to gain an understanding of the lived experiences of the participants with specific focus on disability identity of the professionals working in disability services and how their identities inform their campus experiences, along with how their intersectional identities inform their disability identity. Participants were found to experience ableism and oppression, a broad spectrum of relationships, disability solidarity, disability disclosure, identity hierarchy, disability management and coping strategies, complicated expectations regarding normative productivity, along with nuanced intersectional identities. Implications for disability services directors, collaborators, and senior leaders at institutions of higher education are identified. Future directions for research are also provided. Practitioners and scholars would benefit from future research that centers Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) disabled women. Additionally, there is a call for research concerning disability status (lifelong, acquired) and type (visible, invisible), which appears to inform the nuance of disability identity.