Inclusion of disability issues in teaching and research in higher education

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 10
  • SDG 4
  • Abstract:

    Evidence suggests that the lack of inclusion of disability issues in the curricula of higher education institutions may result in the perpetuation of practices that discriminate against disabled people in the broader society. In light of this claim, this article investigates whether and how disability issues are included in the teaching and research of three faculties at the University of Cape Town (UCT), namely the faculties of Health Sciences, Humanities, and Engineering and the Built Environment. A survey of disability inclusion was conducted across the faculties, followed by interviews with selected participants. The study revealed low levels of disability inclusion, and that disability is not viewed as an issue of social justice and transformation overall. However, there are pockets of inclusion, the nature of which differs for each faculty. In the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, disability is included as an issue of legislation, space and environment, while the Faculty of Humanities focuses on the sociocultural and socio-economic impact of disability, and the Faculty of Health Sciences introduces disability with an emphasis on individual impairment, environmental effects, community-based rehabilitation and inclusive development, as well as the prevention and management of disability. We propose the creation of an institutional system that will build the capacity of lecturers to include disability in teaching and research across faculties, in line with UCT’s transformation agenda.