ENHANCEMENT OF SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE OF STUDENTS WITH PHYSICAL DISABILITIES: EFFECTS OF ROLE SALIENCE, PEER INTERACTION AND ACADEMIC SUPPORT INTERVENTIONS
 
Mpofu, E., University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe
 
Students with physical disabilities attending ordinary Zimbabwean schools experience more social prejudice than same-gender non-disabled peers (Mpofu, 1999). Social enhancement programs for students with or without disabilities applicable to Zimbabwean or African school settings are non- existent. The study pilot tested the effectiveness of a school-based program for enhancing the social acceptance of early adolescents (i.e., ages 10 to 14 years: N = 160; Mean age =12.56, SD = 1.8 years) with physical disabilities attending ordinary Zimbabwean schools. Actual (i.e., peer) social acceptance and perceived (i.e., self) social acceptance were considered and for same-gender and opposite-gender. The program involved a role salience intervention, a peer exposure intervention and an academic support intervention, and combinations of the individual interventions. It involved whole classrooms in order to avoid stigmatization of the interventions, treat the context of prejudice and enable non-disabled classmates to benefit from participation. Nomination sociometric techniques were used to measure social acceptance, and identify student preferred school or classroom roles, preferred peers, and preferred academic services. Measures of intervention effectiveness were taken at four week intervals over a three months. Repeated measures analysis showed that the role salience intervention was singularly more effective than the peer interaction and academic support interventions in raising the social status of students with physical disabilities. A combination of intervention involving role salience was superior.