Disability Studies at the University of Washington

The Disability Studies Program involves a multi-campus, interdisciplinary group of faculty, students, staff, and community members who share an interest in challenging the traditional ways in which disability is constructed in society.

University of Washington undergraduate students have the opportunity to pursue the Disability Studies Minor and the Individualized Studies Major in Disability Studies.

UW is at the forefront of the development of Disability Studies as an academic discipline through the individual research and teaching of growing numbers of faculty across campuses and disciplines, increasing student interest in the subject area, and an expansion of traditional diversity efforts to include disability. The Disability Studies Program provides additional opportunities for both students and faculty to explore the field.

Interested in learning about upcoming events and communicating with others involved with Disability Studies at the UW? Check out the email list to become part of our online community.


The academic field of Disability Studies

Disability Studies scholarship and teaching enhance the understanding of disability by incorporating social, cultural, historical, legal, and political perspectives, including the connections between disability and other identities.

Disability is a fact of the human experience, not the exception. Disability Studies centers the experiences of disabled people and emphasizes the role of the disability community in defining problems and evaluating solutions.

Like other oppressed groups throughout history, disabled people have been marginalized; this has led to minimal attention to the historical, cultural, and political/legal dimensions of disability. Through neglect, ignorance, prejudice, and false assumptions, as well as through exclusion, distinction, or separation, society prevents persons with disabilities from exercising their economic, social, or cultural rights on an equal basis with persons without disabilities. The effects of disability-based discrimination have been particularly severe in the fields of education, employment, housing, transport, cultural life, and access to public places and services.

The development of Disability Studies represents a much-needed pro-active educational approach to address this pervasive discrimination towards disabled people in our society. Establishing a Disability Studies Program acknowledges the University's commitment to this field of study and to research, teaching, and service.

For more information about DS degrees offered at North American universities, please see the Syracuse University Disability Studies website.

Note: Both "disabled person" and "person with a disability" (PWD) are used by various members of the disability community.