CDS Certificate Program

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Disability and Diversity Studies Courses at the University of Hawaii at Manoa


The Center on Disability Studies at the University of Hawaii offers both undergraduate and graduate coursework in Disability and Diversity Studies (DIS). We also offer a 15-credit, interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate in Disability and Diversity Studies. All courses are offered entirely online. Most courses are asynchronous, where students complete all work independently via an online learning management platform, but some courses are synchronous, where students also meet live with the instructor via an online conferencing program. Asynchronous-only options are often available for students whose local time zone prohibits their participation in synchronous courses.  

Our courses are designed to approach disability from a diversity perspective. This means that disability is viewed as a natural part of a diverse society made up of many kinds of people with many kinds of human characteristics. Our courses will provide students with the knowledge, skills, and insights necessary to understand and navigate disability issues in modern society.

Note for Out-of-State and International Students

All of our courses are offered both as regular Day-School courses and as Extension courses. Out-of-State and International students should check out our FAQ page for registration options.

Summary of Courses

Undergraduate Disability Studies Courses

DIS 380: Disability & Diversity (Offered in the Fall and Spring)

Through this course students will gain greater awareness of diverse populations and the different ways people learn, identify themselves, and how they see and make sense of the world. By understanding that difference is “normal,” students will increase their sensitivity towards diverse populations.

DIS 382: Accessible Learning Technology (Offered in the Fall and Spring)

This course covers U.S. Federal Laws and guidelines, accessible technology, creating accessible instructional media, developing long-term resources, advancing accessible social interaction between students and students with instructors, and using case studies as examples of good practices.

DIS 383: Disability History and Culture: From Homer to Hip Hop (Offered in the Fall)

This Writing Intensive Focus course encourages students to consider disability history and culture in the context of our wider society. Who were the Greeks who created their own society for veterans with disabilities? Was a 13th century Mali warrior, born with disabilities, the basis for the story of "The Lion King"? How does Kalaupapa fit into the history of disabilities? What does Hip Hop have to do with disability culture?

Graduate Disability Studies Courses

*Denotes required course for the Certificate Program

DIS 675 (alpha): Supporting Multilingual Learners (Offered in the Fall, Spring and Summer)

Students in this course will learn strategies for identifying and adopting best practices that support all students in inclusive learning environments with an emphasis on STEM curriculum for English Language Learners. (B) Science for English Language Learners; (C) Technology for English Language Learners; (D) Math for English Language Learners.

DIS 680: Disability History Across the Ages (Offered in the Spring)

This course provides a historical overview of disability that visits diverse perspectives, attitudes, and treatment toward individuals with disabilities through many centuries, societies, and cultures throughout the world; and how people with disabilities perceived themselves.

DIS 681: Multicultural Issues and Disability * (Offered in the Fall)

This course emphasizes knowledge and a foundational understanding of disability related cultural variances with the intent of supporting individuals from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and their families.

DIS 682: Special Topics in Disability & Diversity Studies (Offered in the Summer)

This course explores disability and diversity across time and space to gain an understanding and context for how the past affects the present and future.

DIS 683: Disability & Diversity Issues * (Offered in the Fall)

Through this course students will develop an understanding about issues individuals with disabilities, their families, friends, colleagues, and allies encounter in today’s society.  This includes information about the lives of individuals with disabilities and perceptions of impairment; policies and legislation; diversity issues; advocacy issues; service provision issues; educational issues; and how these may be seen through the lens of research and active learning.

DIS 684: Interdisciplinary Team Development * (Offered in the Spring)

This course provides opportunities for students to develop theoretical and applied family-centered and culturally sensitive approaches to building effective partnerships and facilitating collaborative teams with professionals, persons with disabilities, and their families.

DIS 687: Advanced Seminar on Disability Issues (Offered in the Spring)

This seminar course offers in-depth explorations of compelling topics related to the social, political, and economic integration of individuals with disabilities of all ages, their families and allies and professionals working in the field. Students will have the opportunity to plan and deliver their own seminar topic session.

DIS 698: Fieldwork/Research (Offered in the Fall and Spring for Certificate Students Only)

This course provides field-based experiences designed to apply evidence-based practices and evaluate their effectiveness. Mentorship at multiple levels is provided.

DIS 699:  Independent Study * (Offered in the Fall and Spring for Certificate Students Only)

This course provides guided independent research and writing experience. Students write a rigorous research or directed readings paper focused on disability and cultural diversity or interdisciplinary issues.