dis506 ethical issues in disability practice




Credit points: 15

Subject outline

Working with people with disabilities to support their rights and choices is an integral part of disability practice. In this subject, students will learn about ethical challenges faced by people with disabilities and by professionals in supporting the exercise of human rights. Debates in key topics to be explored will include personhood and citizenship, autonomy and self-determination, capacity to consent, the ethics of care, dignity of risk and duty of care, sexuality and reproductive rights.

SchoolSchool Allied Health,Human Serv & Sport

Credit points15

Subject Co-ordinatorNicholas Barry

Available to Study Abroad StudentsNo

Subject year levelYear Level 5 - Masters

Exchange StudentsNo

Subject particulars

Subject rules

Prerequisites Must be admitted into HOUA


Incompatible subjects ADP5EID

Equivalent subjectsN/A

Special conditionsN/A

Learning resources


Resource TypeTitleResource RequirementAuthor and YearPublisher
ReadingsThe faces of intellectual disability: Philosophical reflectionsRecommendedCarlson, A., L. (2010).Indiana University Press
ReadingsCognitive disability and its challenge to moral philosophy.RecommendedKittay, E., F., & Carlson, A., L. (2010).Wiley Blackwell

Graduate capabilities & intended learning outcomes

01. Evaluate the concept of the 'dignity of risk' and its relation to duty of care for people with disabilities.

Students to read relevant material and view different vignettes on dignity of risk as an example of the delicate balance to be managed in relation to enabling choice and control (i.e., consideration of autonomy & self-determination) when supporting people with disabilities, and how it is part of the duty of care provided by supporters.

02. Critically evaluate ethical challenges that present when supporting decision-making approaches for people with cognitive disabilities.

View and read about different scenarios that a professional is likely to encounter. Scenarios highlight support for decision making approaches with a person with cognitive disability. Scenarios drawn from research on lived experiences of people with disabilities. Ethics surrounding this approach will be explored.

03. Select and critically evaluate the ethical issues that arise in a selected disability-related topic.

Cases provided which demonstrate different perspectives/positions taken by: the parent of an adult with cognitive disability, an advocate, a professional. Students to decipher the underlying premise leading to the variances between these supporters.

04. Interpret and transmit knowledge about various disability-related debates and how their resolution is reflected in current legislation.

Students will be guided using different case scenarios. Scenarios drawn from research on lived experiences of people with disabilities.

05. Reflect on a given profession's code of ethics and its relationship to current disability-related legislation.

Students will draw on an example from their professional Code of Ethics to respond to an ethical dilemma or issue.

Subject options

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Start date between: and    Key dates

Online, 2019, Semester 2, Online


Online enrolmentYes

Maximum enrolment sizeN/A

Enrolment information

Subject Instance Co-ordinatorNicholas Barry

Class requirements

Unscheduled Online ClassWeek: 31 - 43
One 10.0 hours unscheduled online class per week on any day including weekend during the day from week 31 to week 43 and delivered via online.

Scheduled Online ClassWeek: 31 - 43
Three 1.0 hours scheduled online class every three weeks on weekdays during the day from week 31 to week 43 and delivered via online.


Assessment elementComments%ILO*
Risk Forum (750-word equivalent)Online forum to discuss and evaluate scenarios related to dignity of risk and nature of support provided.1001
Ethical Perspectives Evaluation (1 x 2,500-word equivalent)Report evaluating reasons for different ethical perspectives by different people in a given scenario involving approaches to supporting a person with cognitive disability.4502, 03
Guardianship Case (2,500-word equivalent)Prepare a case for presentation at the Guardianship Board about appointing a guardian to make decisions about a given scenario involving a person with cognitive disability (e.g., sterilization, person's place of residence).4503, 04, 05