Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Special Education and Rehabilitation

Committee Chair(s)

Julie Smart


Julie Smart


Jared Schultz


Scott Bates


Robert Morgan


Lillian Durán


Individuals with disabilities (IWDs) continue to experience stigma, prejudice, and discrimination that result in social injustice. Counselors of all specialties and theoretic orientations provide services to IWDs. However, there is little discussion about disability-related social justice in the counseling and psychology literature. Counselors, psychology professionals, rehabilitation counselors, and society as a whole, must first be aware of the social injustices that IWDs experience and the role that society has in maintaining them; otherwise, counselors risk perpetuating these social injustices. However, there are no instruments that measure the awareness of social justice issues as they relate to IWDs. By creating and validating an instrument that measures awareness of social justice issues as they relate to IWDs, counselors may be able to increase their sensitivity, and develop both curricula and empirical research designed to address the social injustices faced by IWDs.

This research focused on the exploratory development and validation of a new instrument, the Awareness of Social Justice for Individuals with Disabilities Scale (ASJIDS). Five domains were identified that underlie disability-related social justice, (a) equity, (b) access, (c) participation, (d) the effects of the biomedical model of disability, and (e) sympathy and lowered expectations for individuals with disabilities. Items for the ASJIDS were grounded in these five domains and evaluated by expert reviewers. The ASJIDS was administered to 503 undergraduate students at a Midwestern state university, of which 436 completed every item. Internal consistency of the ASJIDS was found to be high; however, Cronbach’s alpha for each of the five domain-grounded subscales did not meet the accepted 0.70 cutoff. The values obtained from Bartlett’s test of sphericity and Kaiser–Meyer–Olkin’s measure of sampling adequacy met the criteria needed for exploratory factor analysis (EFA). However, interitem correlations were low, suggesting a weak factor solution. A five-factor solution accounted for 30.33% of the variance. The limitations of this research, implications for theory, practice, and training, and recommendations for future research are discussed.




This work made publicly available electronically on December 21, 2012.