Perceptions of Youth With and Without Disabilities: Implications for Inclusive Leisure Programs and Services


  • Barbara Wilhite
  • Mary Ann Devine
  • Lori Goldenberg


Perceptions, Inclusive Leisure, Recreation, Physical Disabilities, Qualitative Research


This study examined perceptions of youth with and without disabilities in various life contexts to ascertain how participation in inclusive leisure environments influences, or is influenced by, these perceptions. Male (n = 11) and female (n = 11) informants, age 11-21, participated in face-to-face interviews; 12 informants had physical disabilities (e.g., cerebral palsy, spina bifida, visual impairment). European American (n = 11), African American (n = 10), and South American (n = 1) races were represented. Four conceptual categories were identified inductively: acceptance, disability, maturity, and self-perception. Relationships observed within and between the categories revealed an interactive and dual nature of life contexts with both positive and negative influences revealed. Interactions characterized by prior preparation of youth, frequent contacts between youth with and without disabilities, cooperative efforts, minimal and naturally occurring accommodations, and equal status relationships appeared most likely to enhance inclusive participation and contribute positively to self-development. The importance of examining the perspectives of people with disabilities was also revealed.





Research Papers