Why study Disability Studies?

Disability Studies centers the lived experiences of disabled people.  It also emphasizes the role of the disability community in defining problems and evaluating solutions concerning disability experience, equity, access, and justice.

The premise of disability studies is that our culture's construction of disability as well as legal, social and institutional practices concerning disability have real-life and often negative impacts on people with disabilities. Moreover, barriers to equity and inclusion are not indicative of individual cognitive or physical "deficits," but of a collective moral deficit within society as a whole. Yet, while disability representations, metaphors, narratives, historical developments, laws, and other social phenomena may create or maintain barriers, disability identities, communities, values and aesthetics may be positive, empowering, and change-making.

Disability Studies scholarship and teaching enhance the understanding of disability by incorporating social, cultural, historical, legal, and political perspectives, including the connections between disability and other identities, and facilitating the development of practical skills, and fostering principles of advocacy and social justice.

The development of Disability Studies at UC represents a much-needed pro-active approach to addressing pervasive discrimination towards disabled people in our society and the celebration of disabled people, identities, and communities. Establishing a Disability Studies program acknowledges the University's commitment to this field of study and to research, teaching, and service.

Admission Requirements

In order for students to achieve a certificate in Disability Studies, students must be matriculated at the University of Cincinnati in Arts and Sciences or any UC college granting associates' or bachelors' degrees. 

Students who pursue a certificate in Disability Studies may come from any degree-granting undergraduate major at UC. The certificate encourages students to think critically about disability as lived experience and as a cultural and historical construct. Students in this certificate explore issues in disability representation, disability identity, disability advocacy, and disablity experience, challenging models and assumptions about disability, and learning how to promote equitable change in the popular imagination, in the workplace, in the community, and in the world they live in.

In the world in which we live, learn, work, and engage with one another in daily life, disability is a fact of the human experience, not the exception. 

Still, assumptions about disabilities often overshadow equity and access for people with disabilities. Alongside popular "overcoming" narratives, historical and contemporary representations and social policy may reinforce stereotypes and barriers, often intersecting with racial, ethnic, class-based or other marginalizations. Moreover, advances in technology, developments of normative behavioral techniques, and a variety of legal challenges may obscure the lived realities of disability experience, and the social, cultural and professional barriers people with disabilities face. At the same time, the need for disability justice in a variety of professional spaces and social, cultural and educational institutions is acute.

This certificate helps students understand the experiential, ethical. historical, legal and other issues of ableism embedded in our cultural narrative and social and institutional structures and develop critical thinking and strategies for advocacy and change as they prepare for life in a variety of workplaces, public spaces, social institutions and domestic spaces.

The certificate is valuable for students preparing for a wide variety of professional careers in law, education, medicine, psychology, politics, social work, biomedical engineering, social sciences, narrative studies, nonprofit work, business, academia, and a variety of other arenas where advocacy and change-making are needed. It may also be included with the interdisciplinary studies (BIS), liberal arts (LARTS), or liberal arts: medicine, health and society (LART-MHS) degrees.

Contact the program director, whose name and information appear at the top of this screen.

Students in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) enjoy many benefits afforded through study at a research-intensive institution ranked among the nation's top 25 public research universities. UC's urban, Tristate location offers exciting opportunities for global education, research and service learning, while its student-centered focus includes an 11:1 student-faculty ratio, a nationally recognized Center for Exploratory Studies and a highly successful First Year Experience program that teaches critical skills for first-year students and provides connections with important campus resources.

The Disability Studies program brings distinguished authors and speakers from many disciplines to campus. Students are also invited to attend events and hear speakers within the disciplines that participate in the certificate program.

Make sure that you have declared the certificate program online. Next, make sure that the certificate program director is aware of when you are finishing the program. If you are pursuing another bachelor's degree, your certificate will be reviewed at the time that you submit your separate degree application.

The University of Cincinnati and all regional campuses are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Contact Information

Michele Reutter, Ph.D.
248 Arts & Sciences Hall
2600 Clifton Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45221
(513) 556-0843

Program Code: 15CRT-DS-C2