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Transitions to adulthood: the experiences of youth with disabilities in Accra, Ghana

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posted on 15.09.2014, 09:37 authored by Stefanie Gregorius
Youth with disabilities are amongst the poorest and most marginalised of young people worldwide. Approximately 80 per cent of disabled young people live in countries of the Global South. Despite a growing body of research problematising youth transitions in situations of poverty and increasing interest in disability issues beyond the Global North, little is known about how youth with disabilities in the Global South make their transitions to adulthood. This thesis addresses this gap by reporting on a qualitative study on the transitions to adulthood of young people with different impairments living primarily in Accra, Ghana. Using innovative, participatory methods, it explores young people s individual narratives within the areas of education, employment, and social and community life, and the ways in which these shape their life trajectories. The study shows that the transitions to adulthood of youth with disabilities in Accra are substantially influenced by disability-related factors and processes that are socio-spatially embedded and intricately intertwined. Disabling social and physical environments restrict disabled young people s participation in education, employment, and social and community life, which increases their vulnerability to marginalisation and exclusion in society. As a consequence, their transitions to adulthood are even more complex, protracted, and uncertain than for their non-disabled peers. Youth with disabilities, however, use a variety of coping strategies to navigate the challenges they face associated with school, work, and social life in their attempts to achieve adulthood. Foregrounding the voices of young people with differing categories of social difference challenges the hitherto existing homogenisation of the lives of youth with disabilities in the Global South highlighting their agency and capabilities as well as the complex ways in which they negotiate transitions during the life-course.


Loughborough University (Graduate School), Royal Geographical Society (Travel Grant to undertake fieldwork)



  • Social Sciences


  • Geography and Environment


© Stefanie Gregorius

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at:

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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