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    An introduction to Disability Studies, which critically examines disability issues across a wide range of disciplines as well as different socio-cultural, political, economic, historical, legal, and educational contexts.

    What does it mean to be disabled? What would it be like if schools, workplaces and communities were made more inclusive for everyone?

    Disability is everywhere, once you start looking for it. This paper will introduce you to Disability Studies, a multidisciplinary field of inquiry that focuses on the experiences, rights and leadership of disabled people. You will learn how to critically examine disability issues across a wide range of disciplines, as well as different socio-cultural, political, economic, historical, legal, and educational contexts. The paper is relevant to ALL students from ALL University divisions/disciplines, which enables you to learn with and from people enrolled in a range of degrees.

    About this paper

    Paper title Disability Studies: An Introduction
    Subject Education
    EFTS 0.15
    Points 18 points
    Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $981.75
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    Schedule C
    Arts and Music
    An open mind and willingness to think.
    Teaching staff
    Dr Gill Rutherford
    Paper Structure

    Key Concepts:

    • Disability is a natural part of being human
    • Disability is about human rights
    • Understanding individuals' experiences of disability is critical in developing respectful ways of knowing about this aspect of human difference
    • Understanding people begins with a presumption of competence
    • Language matters
    A list of course readings will be provided.
    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, global perspective, interdisciplinary perspective, lifelong learning, communication, critical thinking, cultural understanding, ethics.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    Students who successfully complete this paper will be able to:

    • Articulate an understanding of disability/tāngata whaikaha in terms of socially constructed responses to human difference, which vary across cultural, historical, societal contexts, relationships and intersectional identities.
    • Define ableism and explain the impact of personal and systemic ableism on individuals’ lives.
    • Demonstrate an understanding and application of Whānau Hauā and other theoretical interpretations of disability.
    • Describe the contribution of Disability Studies/disabled people in transforming understandings of and responses to disability and disability issues within a framework of human rights/justice.
    • Communicate personal and theoretical understandings of disability issues in a respectful manner.
    • Critically reflect upon the values, beliefs and assumptions that determine their responses to the concept of disability and experiences of disabled people.


    Semester 1

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    A1 Tuesday 09:00-09:50 9-13, 15-22


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    Attend one stream from
    A1 Monday 15:00-16:50 9-13, 15-22
    A2 Tuesday 10:00-11:50 9-13, 15-22
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