This unit of study is the first core unit undertaken in the Disability specialisation. In this unit students will be introduced to the origins and meanings of the terms 'disability', 'inclusion', 'impairment' and 'handicap'. Through the adoption of a critical lens students will be asked to evaluate key assumptions and language embodying these assumptions and their association with people with disabilities. Historical, cultural, political and social factors that influence contemporary issues of how people with disability belong in society will also be explored. This unit gives university students an opportunity to also reflect upon and assess their own personal biases related to the nature of disability. They will be required to reflect on their educational experiences with people with disabilities in schools and in the broader community. University students will develop an understanding of the history of the biomedical and social model of disability and how both these and other models shape notions of 'disablement'. Drawing on their personal understanding of disability and inclusive practice in society, students will examine the following key questions. What does it mean to have a disability? What are some critical assumptions made about people with disabilities? What are positive community assumptions made about people with disabilities? How does the social, medical, psychological and political agencies define, confer and construct the life experiences of people with disabilities? What supports are available for people with disabilities? Through their connection to professional experiences, students will begin to identify how their own personal biases associated with disability may have unknowingly impacted on their encounters with disabled people.

Unit details

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Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Articulate the origins and meaning of the concepts of impairment, disability, and handicap;  
  2. Investigate the theories and models related to the education of people with disabilities and the resources and supports required;  
  3. Critically analyse their assumptions (negative and positive) and how that affects the interaction of people with disability in community and within the teaching practice;  
  4. The development of knowledge around support and resources available for people with disability.  


Assessment type Description Grade
Presentation Students to create visual representation of their personal teaching philosophy. 30%
Case Study Discuss a real life story of an indivudual's journey with disablitity and reflect on how the support has affected their lives 50%
Presentation Group Presentation: In small groups students will be required to present on the research related to a particular disability or impairment. 20%

Where to next?

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