This article explores how the experience of being a caregiver and service provider informs teaching disability studies to students who are also frontline workers in service agencies. I discuss my own history as a service provider and stepparent of an adult with disabilities who has a long history as a service recipient. The history of the City University of New York (CUNY) disability studies program and target student population is reviewed, enabling readers to understand that the approach CUNY takes may be different from that of other programs in the country. The article also describes frustrations students encounter as course readings emphasizing the social construction of disability and the importance of self-determination collide with students' lived experiences of program structures and processes required by regulations and funding sources. Additional sources of tension for students who are frontline workers are the expectations of self-advocates and their parents, and the conflicts in values that may surface when serving a multicultural population in a large urban area. Disability studies courses provide a safe place for students to raise and examine these conflicts in the context of larger disability theory. I utilize my multiple roles and the perspectives they allow to deepen class discussions and offer a more nuanced reflection of disability theory as it is expressed in service praxis.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.