Her research in disability studies and the advancement of disability as diversity, through which she applies the lens of Explanatory Legitimacy Theory, has been supported from federal and foundation sources in excess of seven million dollars. Her ability to win these extramural funds to advance her scholarship has had a significant impact in advancing the literature in the field of disability studies for which she has been recognized by prestigious awards and international notability begetting invitations to keynote at national and international conferences on disability studies and distinguished lectures at University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Smith College, NYU, University of North Carolina and others.
In Rethinking Disability (2004) DePoy with co-author Gilson, takes on the essentialist nature of current diversity categories with a particular focus on disability, laying bare the value foundation and political and economic purpose of “disability category” assignment and social, professional and community response. Her subsequent works, co-authored with Gilson, include The Human Experience (2007) and selected essays and papers. This scholarship applies legitimacy theory to understanding theories of human description and explanation and their purposive, political use in diverse “helping professional” worlds.
In her most recent work, DePoy, with co-author Gilson, applies design theory and practice to the analysis of diversity categories, their membership, and their maintenance. She asserts that current approaches to understanding and responding to diversity are grand narratives that advantage the market and professional economy while perpetuating difference and inter-group struggle, truncating social justice and limiting equality of opportunity.
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