UW News

May 27, 2010

Disability studies students to present work at Allen Library June 1

UW News

Students in Pat Brown’s Disability Law, Policy & the Community class will present the results of their quarter-long studies of public disability policy from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 1, in the Research Commons of the Allen Library. The session is open to the campus community.

Brown is a clinical associate professor of rehabilitation medicine and associate director of the UW Center for Technology and Disability Studies, and the class is Law, Studies and Justice/Comparative History of Ideas 433. Brown said this quarter she has 23 students, nearly all undergraduates. The class is one of the main courses for a minor in Disability Studies, Brown said. She co-teaches the course with Kurt Johnson, professor of rehabilitation medicine.

“I teach them how to analyze policy — whether it’s legislation or less formal policy — from a disability perspective,” she said. The class asks of various policies, “How might this impact people with disabilities?”

Brown said the students’ assignments are twofold. The first part is to work with an advocacy group whose focus is people with disabilities; then the students are to analyze a piece of legislation or public policy with disability issues in mind.

Brown said her students have been asked to create posters that summarize the results of their work, “much as they would do if they were going to a conference.” Joining the students for the posters session will be representatives of some of the advocacy groups they worked with over the quarter.

She said students’ poster presentations will include a study of a proposal to close institutions for those with severe disabilities, the implications of the Family Leave Act on individuals with fibromyalgia, among many other subjects.

“I think this is a very different type of experience for undergraduates,” Brown said. “They’re able to become involved in the community and understand issues for people with disabilities while still taking a step back and being a research scientist, so to speak. They have to think critically about the facts, and make policy recommendations of what they think should happen next.”

To learn more about Disability Studies at the UW, visit online here.