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University of Washington – Disability Studies

Disability Studies separated by line above 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.

Contact information

FACULTY

  • JOSÉ ALANIZ
    Associate Professor, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures; Department of Comparative Literature (Adjunct)
  • CLARA BERRIDGE
    Assistant Professor, School of Social Work
  • SHERRIE BROWN
    Research Professor, College of Education; Associate Director, UCEDD
  • LANCE A. FORSHAY
    Lecturer and Program Coordinator, ASL and Deaf Studies
  • SARA GOERING
    Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy; Program on Values in Society
  • MARK HARNISS
    Associate Professor, Rehabilitation Medicine
  • KURT L. JOHNSON
    Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine; Director, Center for Technology and Disability Studies
  • RICHARD LADNER
    Professor Emeritus, Computer Science and Engineering
  • DENNIS LANG
    Affiliate Faculty, Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies
  • STEPHEN MEYERS
    Assistant Professor, Department of Law, Societies and Justice; Jackson School Of International Studies
  • SUSHIL OSWAL
    Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Tacoma
  • MAUREEN "MO" WEST
    Lecturer, School of Nursing and Health Studies, UW Bothell
  • KRISTI WINTER
    Lecturer, American Sign Language
  • JOANNE WOIAK
    Lecturer, Disability Studies Program; Department of Bioethics and Humanities (Adjunct)
 Black and white photo of a 1993 disability rights march in New York City. At front are Paul Miller, Judy Heumann, Justin Dart, and others, with large crowd behind. Marchers holding a sign that says: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Photo credit: Tom Olin.
1993 disability rights march in New York City. At front are Paul Miller, Judy Heumann, Justin Dart, and others, with large crowd behind. Marchers holding a sign that says: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Photo credit: Tom Olin.

CURRENT CLASS OFFERINGS

University of Washington undergraduate students have the opportunity to pursue the Disability Studies Minor and the Individualized Studies Major in Disability Studies. All courses are on Seattle campus unless otherwise noted.

Spring 2018 Courses:

  • DIS ST/LSJ/CHID 230 Introduction to Disability Studies, Kristen L. Johnson, T/Th 10:30-12:20
  • DIS ST/LSJ/CHID 332 Disability and Society: Murderball, Savants, and Crip Art: Disability in Popular Culture, Heather D. Evans, T/Th 10:30-12:20
  • DIS ST/LSJ/CHID 430 Topics in Disability Studies: Disability Studies, Feminist Theory, and Representation, Ronnie Thibault, M/W 10:30-12:20
  • DIS ST 435 Advanced Seminar in Disability Studies, Sharan Brown, M/W 12:30-2:20

PUBLIC EVENTS

Spring Quarter Brown Bag Seminars: Many of these presenters are recipients of 2017 Harlan Hahn Research Grants awarded by UW Disability Studies. All talks take place on Friday afternoons, 12pm-1pm, in Mary Gates Hall 024.  Many thanks to our colleagues at the D Center (Disability and Deaf Cultural Center) for sharing their space and volunteering to help us organize these talks.  Please note that the D Center is a scent free/mobility aid accessible space. Scent free soap/hand sanitizer will be provided. Bathrooms will be gender neutral for the events. We will have ASL interpretation and CART captioning available at the events.

  • March 30, Heather Feldner
  • April 13, Ann Luetzow
  • April 20, Sushil Oswal
  • May 4, Mark Harniss
  • May 11, John Porter
  • May 25, Annuska Zolyomi

NEWS

Dennis Lang, our friend, colleague, mentor, and the heart of the University of Washington Disability Studies Program, died on Saturday, June 23, 2018, in Seattle, Washington.  We are deeply saddened by this unexpected loss.

Eighteen years ago, Dennis started knocking on doors at UW and gently asked why the University was not doing more to educate society on disability discrimination and the experience of disabled people.  In his kind and persistent way, he kept the conversation going with anyone who would listen.  The main message was that it was our responsibility as a public institution of higher education to include disability studies in the curriculum.  He was untiring in his effort to “make something happen” and could be found in meetings throughout campus or connecting people wherever he found possibilities.  His almost two decades of volunteer work included teaching the first disability studies undergraduate courses on campus, serving as the first volunteer Disability Studies Program Director, advocating for funding for instructors, participating on numerous doctoral committees, and fostering the careers of students and colleagues whose work was “disability studies” based.  He advocated for the Disability Studies Minor and the Major in Disability Studies through Individualized Studies.  Dennis modelled the importance of both scholarship and activism in creating increased opportunities for individuals with disabilities in the university and the wider community.  It was exhausting and frustrating work and he never gave up.

In addition to being the catalyst for the development of our program, he will be missed for his humanity.  Dennis was a caring, thoughtful, and generous man.  When he met people struggling or needing help, he reached out – to listen and try to problem solve.  He cared deeply for the students in our university and they recognized that by establishing the Dennis Lang Student Award in his honor and in recognition of his mentorship.

We commit to continue the vision Dennis had for the Disability Studies Program, a program focused on educating students and thereby the larger society on justice and equal rights for all bodies and minds.  A program that asks all academic disciplines to incorporate disability perspectives in their understanding of the world.  There would be no Disability Studies Program at the University of Washington without the dedication of Dennis Lang and he will be greatly missed by students, staff, and faculty.  We thank his family for sharing him with us during his retirement years.  His efforts have changed this university in many ways that will have a lasting impact.

A private family memorial will be held at a future date.  His family suggests donations in his honor be made to the Dennis Lang Student Award in Disability Studies.