Skip to main content
Article
Omission and othering: Constructing autism on college websites.
Community College Journal of Research and Practice (2019)
  • Kirsten R Brown
Abstract
Students with autism attend two-year colleges at a significantly greater rate than four-year institutions. As these prospective and current students engage with two-year colleges, websites are an important digital platform to assess inclusivity and campus climate. The digital environment is particularly important because many autistic individuals prefer to engage in written communication. We employed a critical content analysis to understand the digital campus climate at public two-year colleges (n = 94) by analyzing website content that colleges use to describe autism. Findings show that the digital campus climate was unwelcoming for the vast majority of prospective and current students with autism. Autism was omitted from 29.8% of institutional websites. Colleges located in the eastern or western areas of the United States had lower rates of omission. When references to autism were present, website content used medical and legal language to depict autistic students as deficient. Institutional websites othered students by objectifying autism and using volunteer or charity work to frame autism as outside of normalcy. Text written by autistic people (students, alumni, staff, or organizations) was absent from all but one
institutions’ website. Implications for practitioners include addressing institutionalized
ableism by modifying websites to include autism-specific content,
removing deficit narratives, and amplifying autistic agency by
including material written by autistic individuals.
Keywords
  • autism,
  • community college,
  • campus climate,
  • digital culture
Publication Date
January, 2019
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1080/10668926.2019.1565845
Citation Information
Nachman, B., & Brown, K. (2019). Omission and othering: Constructing autism on college websites. Community College Journal of Research and Practice. Advanced online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/10668926.2019.1565845