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Awareness starts with education, and with awareness comes action. Whether you’re already immersed in the community or are at the beginning of your advocacy journey, here are a few courses on disability studies to help further your understanding. These courses go over a wide range of topics and tackle issues faced by the disability community on various disciplines. They are free and available online, allowing you to start from anywhere and to go at your own pace.  

Disability Inclusion in Education: Building Systems of Support

Worldwide millions of children are not able to fully participate in schooling, and this is especially a problem for children with disabilities. This course from the University of Cape Town explores the support that teachers need in order to meet the needs of children with severe to profound hearing, visual and intellectual disabilities. Topics include developing disability confidence and what exactly children with specific impairments need to be able to learn. By the end of the course, participants will be familiar with the impairment specific needs of learners with disabilities, and how to build systems of support for inclusive education. Sign up for Disability Inclusion in Education: Building Systems of Support.

Community Awareness Course: Sexuality and Disability

This one-hour course from the University of Minnesota provides a solid introduction to human sexuality for those living with disabilities. Often there are assumptions that the disabled or differently abled people are not sexual, do not have sexual needs, or cannot be involved sexually. This course teaches the basics of disabilities and human sexuality and learners will: 1) confront some of the societal myths and beliefs that are associated with sexuality and disability; 2) understand and foresee issues that may relate to fulfilling sexuality with regard to people with disabilities and the differently-abled; and 3) understand some of the physical barriers that people living with disabilities may need to deal with to be sexually active. Sign up for Community Awareness Course: Sexuality and Disability.

Disability Awareness and Support 

The goal of this course from University of Pittsburgh is to promote equal opportunity and the full participation of students with disabilities in higher education by helping participants advance their awareness of the meaning of accessibility in education. Participants will gain competence and confidence in working with students by focusing on legislation, universal design, and assistive technologies. Sign up for Disability Awareness and Support.

An Introduction to Accessibility and Inclusive Design

This course from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign introduces some of the fundamental principles of accessibility and prepares learners for further study in accessibility and inclusive design. Participants will have an opportunity to explore the major types of disabilities and related assistive technology and adaptive strategies, the most salient contours of the legal landscape, and the major principles that guide universal design and accessible content creation. Spotlight guest videos will highlight firsthand perspectives on disability, as well as topics like disability etiquette, universal design and universal design for learning, accommodation in higher education, campus accessibility policy, and accessibility in a corporate setting. Sign up for An Introduction to Accessibility and Inclusive Design.

Able-Minded – Mental Health and People with Intellectual Disability

This course, offered by the University of Queensland, focuses on the mental health issues of people with intellectual disability. Participants learn about the complexities of diagnosing mental health issues in people with intellectual disabilities and the types of disorders, assessments, screenings, and treatments used. There will also be a special focus on the legal and ethical complexities in health practice with patients who often require substituted consent. Sign up for Able-Minded – Mental Health and People with Intellectual Disability. 

Through My Eyes – Intellectual Disability Healthcare around the World

This course, offered by the University of Queensland, focuses on the stories of people with intellectual disabilities around the world, as well as their families and supporters. Participants will learn about the challenges and aid received in healthcare for people with intellectual disabilities, including their experience of specific syndromes and communication difficulties, and how they stay healthy. Participants will also hear from family members as they discuss complex care, rare syndromes, early death, and planning for independence. The end of the course will focus on the history of treatment, the impact of rights’ movements on healthcare delivery, common health conditions, and health promotion. Sign up for Through My Eyes – Intellectual Disability Healthcare around the World.

Global Health and Disability

Around 15% of the world’s population, or 1 billion people, live with some form of disability, with numbers continuing to rise over the coming decades. People with disabilities are often overlooked in national and international development, and can face widespread barriers in accessing services, including health and rehabilitation services, even though simple initiatives are available to enable access. This three-week course created by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine aims to raise awareness about the importance of health and well-being of people with disabilities globally. Sign up for Global Health and Disability.