Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. David Blakesley

Committee Member

Dr. Clare Mullaney

Committee Member

Dr. Cynthia Pury

Committee Member

Dr. Kristen Okamoto


This qualitative research study explores how caregivers and persons with disabilities navigate the rhetoric of disability and caregiving through the interviews of fifteen caregivers and fifteen persons with disabilities using the lens of grounded theory and Burke’s (1952) dramatistic pentad. Significant findings describe how focused disability description can circumvent ableism when rhetorical resources that assist caregivers and persons with disabilities to navigate the rhetoric in disability descriptions are provided. Disability description theory includes the three stages that define, collaborate and revise, and practice and apply a disability description. This qualitative research offers an introduction into the phenomenon of disability description with an emphasis on where resources can be located, or what steps can be taken to help caregivers provide or persons with disabilities access rhetorical support. Disability description theory frames the production of a caregiving guide for disability descriptions as a crucial missing resource to determine a disability description style to develop and curate a disability description that assist caregivers and persons with disabilities to claim the rhetorical power and freedom to compose their own narratives, transform their identities, and enhance their lives.



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