Campus Access Only

All rights reserved. This publication is intended for use solely by faculty, students, and staff of University of the Pacific. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, now known or later developed, including but not limited to photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author or the publisher.

Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Intercultural Relations

First Advisor

Kent Warren

First Committee Member

Janet M. Bennett

Second Committee Member

LaRay Barna

Third Committee Member

Laura Bathurst


This thesis examines a special kind of intercultural communication called interability communication, the interactions between the disabled and the abled. In-depth interviews were conducted with six Japanese men (average age 44.3 years), all of whom experienced the transition from being a member of the nondisabled majority to becoming a member of the disabled minority when they received spinal cord injuries in traffic accidents. The average length of time since the initial acquisition of disability was 25.7 years, and all of the men are now gainfully employed, living in the community, and report high levels of quality of life.

This study shows that following their sudden acquisition of disability, the subjects developed new ways of interacting with both their physical and social environments. Their relationships with family and friends were altered. They developed new communication strategies for dealing with nondisabled people, especially centered on asking for help, and accepting or rejecting offers of help.

Their cultural value orientations with regard to power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism-collectivism, and masculinity-femininity also underwent changes. This study shows that an understanding of these changes can help nondisabled people, including family members, friends, medical and rehabilitation specialists, etc. to interact more smoothly with disabled people.

Although the sudden acquisition of disability is usually regarded as an extremely negative event, this study concludes that the six men have experienced positive growth. They have developed more ethnorelative worldviews, and they have successfully adapted to their disabilities.

From the 164 pages of interview transcriptions, more than I 0 pages of direct quotations appear in this thesis in an attempt to accurately retell the stories of these six men.



To access this thesis/dissertation you must have a valid email address and log-in to Scholarly Commons.

Find in PacificSearch



Rights Statement

Rights Statement

In Copyright. URI:
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).