Date of Award

5-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice

Committee Member

Catherine Mobley, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Mike Coggeshall

Committee Member

Maria Bose

Abstract

According to the World Report on Disability compiled by the World Health Organization in 2011, 15 percent of world’s population lives with at least one form of disability and 80 percent of these persons with Disabilities (PWD) live in developing countries. Following the Social Model, Disability and Underdevelopment appear to form a regressive alliance that continues to bar a large population of human beings from a decent and independent life. However, as individual-level innovations, emerging ICT-based technological solutions promise to bridge the gap that prevents the application of developed world Disability policies to an underdeveloped context.

This study contextualized the role and viability of ICT-based technological solutions in determining whether there are macro aspects to Disability defined by overarching political economic dimensions. The study also determined that if macro aspects to Disability exist, whether ICT-based technological solutions should then be recognized as one way to address micro aspects of Disability. In this study, the existence of macro dimensions of Disability was investigated by (1) hypothesizing the existence of differential experiences pertaining to Urban and Rural Disability, and (2) investigating the existence of a fundamental mismatch between desired and available jobs for the PWD.

Methods: To achieve the aforementioned research goals, this study used qualitative data collected from Myanmar, selected for its capacity as a developing country in East Asia. The data included 30 interview transcripts across all formats (Focus Groups, In-depth Interviews and Key Informant Interviews). Data were analyzed using a deductive coding method with pre- and post-determined themes.

Results: There was sufficient evidence to support both hypotheses. The supportive evidence helped to articulate several key theoretical and policy implications. Recognizing that Disability is “two-fold” with both micro and macro theoretical dimensions, the study recommends facilitating “internal migration” of PWD to urban areas and investing in tertiary level skills-development programs as possible policy responses.

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