• University of New South Wales

Disability and a Good Life: Working with Disability

Learn how disability intersects with human rights, and how a good life can be made possible for everyone.

8,525 enrolled on this course

Disability and a Good Life: Working with Disability
  • Duration6 weeks
  • Weekly study5 hours
  • CertificatesAvailable

20% of the global population has a disability, which means most of us will have an experience of disability in our lives, whether it be personally, through our family and friends, or in our workplaces and communities. But what is disability? It’s often assumed that people with disabilities can’t have a good life. But what is a good life?

In this course, and its sister course Thinking through Disability, we’ll reflect on how disability is part of who we are as human beings. These courses will give you and your fellow learners the opportunity to think through and work with some of the big issues facing societies, governments and disabled people.

Work with disability

Today we recognise disability as a part of human diversity. But what does it mean to work with disability in a way that enables a good life for ourselves and others? In this course, we will explore a human rights approach to disability and examine how disability politics and policy, advocacy and activism can inform what we mean by a good life.

To begin, you’ll reflect on the meaning and significance of human diversity. As you move through the topics, you will engage with different approaches to disability by examining the concepts of inclusion, access and support. At the end of the course we will challenge you to consider how you work with disability to enable a good life for all.

Learn in a variety of ways

In this free online course, you can choose your pathway through the materials. Resources and strategies to support your learning include:

  • written, audio and visual resources (transcripts and audio descriptions/files provided)
  • stories from people with disabilities
  • interviews with leading disability studies experts
  • Talking Points to help guide online Comments
  • a glossary of terms
  • a Learner Guide, Mel, who will show you how she worked through the material
  • an opportunity to take your learning further through activities to extend and expand your knowledge.

We encourage you to work through the course week-by-week in order to participate fully in the class discussions. However, once you enrol, materials will continue to be available to you after the course officially ends, so that you have the option to work at your own pace.

We also hope to hear from you. As we strive to improve the course and enable ease of access for all, we have multiple opportunities for you to provide feedback about the accessibility of the materials and the effectiveness of the course design.

Gain vital skills and knowledge

By the end of this course you will be able to:

  • explain disability rights through an examination of the UN Convention
  • understand the implications of justice, discrimination and equality in the lives of people with disabilities around the world
  • engage with the debates around care, support and facilitation, and explain what these concepts look like in practice
  • understand and critique key terms related to disability, such as access, inclusion and belonging
  • identify different channels for working for change
  • understand how a good life might be enabled for a diversity of people, including people with disabilities.

What topics will you cover?

  • The importance of valuing human diversity, inclusion and belonging
  • The implications of discrimination and barriers to access in the lives of people with disabilities
  • Definitions of disability, human rights, access, care, support and contribution
  • The significance of international human rights frameworks, including the UNCRPD
  • What care and support look like in practice
  • The diverse ways that people with disabilities contribute to society
  • Advocacy and activism as channels for working for change

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify and explain what a good life might mean for a diversity of people, including people with disabilities
  • Evaluate the importance of listening to the ideas and life experiences of people with disabilities
  • Explain disability rights through an examination of international human rights frameworks, including the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)
  • Explain how discrimination and barriers impact the lives of people with disabilities
  • Explore an understanding of access as having different patterns that can enable and disable
  • Critically engage with debates around care and support, and explain what these concepts look like in practice
  • Critically reflect on what we identify and value as contribution – economically, culturally and personally
  • Explore channels for working for change at individual, local and global levels

Who is the course for?

This course is suitable for both beginners and experts wanting to raise their awareness of disability and disability-related issues within a global context. It is appropriate for people with disabilities and their family members, friends and allies; professionals in the care and community service sectors; medical and allied health professionals; educators; built environment professionals; advocates and policy makers; scholars; and lifelong learners.

Working with Disability is an appropriate follow-up to the course Thinking through Disability, which introduces you to contemporary understandings of disability as a dimension of human diversity.

Who will you learn with?

I am an academic at UNSW Australia with more than twenty years experience in disability studies and in working for social change in the ways we understand and respond to disability.

I am a professor of disability policy and practice at the Social Policy Research Centre UNSW.I have undertaken research for twenty years with people with disabilities in Australia and internationally

I'm a Lecturer at UNSW, Australia. I'm interested in the relationship between disability, social policy and social change. I think it's really important that universities share knowledge clearly.

Karen Soldatic is an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow (2016 – 2019) at the Institute of Culture and Society, Western Sydney University.

Who developed the course?

UNSW Sydney

Established in 1949 with a unique focus on the scientific, technological and professional disciplines, UNSW is a leading Australian university committed to making a difference

Buy a personalised, digital and printed certificate and transcript

You can buy a Certificate of Achievement for this course — a personalised certificate and transcript in both digital and printed formats, to prove what you’ve learnt. A Statement of Participation is also available for this course.

Certificate of Achievement + transcript


Statement of Participation


Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: