Exploring Disability: A Sociological & Historical Perspective

The Exploring Disability course is a professionally accredited programme that will introduce you to the theories and models that have:

  • Shaped our understanding of people with disability
  • Influenced how disability services have developed and operated in Ireland

You will be actively encouraged throughout to constantly apply what you are learning to understand your workplace and people who use your service.

Who Is This Course For?

The course is for disability service professionals looking to extend their knowledge and skills in the area. It is an accredited programme developed by, and for, professionals working in disability services.

At a Glance

  • Audience Disability service professionals
  • FormatBlended
  • AwardExploring Disability: A Sociological & Historical Perspective (6N14535)
  • Award Type QQI HET Minor
  • Level on NFQ6 (10 Credits)
  • Duration10 weeks
  • Apply ByOct. 22nd, 2019
  • Introductory eLearning ModuleOct. 14th, 2019
  • Start DateOct. 21st, 2019
  • Workshop/Seminar:Nov. 4th or 5th, 2019
  • Assignment DueDec. 2nd, 2019
  • Fee€395

Proceed to Application Centre

Exploring Disability: A Sociological & Historical Perspective
Exploring Disability: A Sociological & Historical Perspective
Exploring Disability: A Sociological & Historical Perspective

Course Details

Learning Objectives

After successfully completing the course you should be able to:

  • Describe the historical development of services for people with disability (PWD) in Ireland
  • Evaluate how these developments have influenced the provision and structure of service delivery in your organisation
  • Use the models and concepts covered in the course to understand the evolution and operation of disability services in your organisation
  • Describe and differentiate between medical and social models of disability and the value systems that underpin them
  • Discuss the role stereotyping and language play in the perception of PWD
  • Describe different theories of disability and discuss how these determine societal responses to disability
  • Demonstrate how best practice can influence the Social Care Worker to empower the lives of service users


Unit 1: The History of Services for People Labelled Disabled

  • Beginnings
  • The Institutional Model
  • Day Services
  • Current Service Provision
  • Service Provision Models
  • Traditional
  • John O’Brien’s Basic Strategy
  • Integration & Inclusion

Exploring Disability: A Sociological & Historical Perspective

Unit 2: Concepts of Disability

  • The Values Underpinning Services Models
  • Implications of O’Brien’s Strategy for Service Delivery
  • Disability Models – Medical, Social & Other
  • The Importance of Definitions
  • Handicap
  • Impairment
  • Disability
  • Labels
  • Stereotypes
  • The Importance of Theories
  • Society Responses to Disability
  • Survival of the Fittest
  • Dependency
  • Independence
  • Interdependence

Unit 3: Views & Visions

  • Views of Disability
  • The Wider Picture
  • The Changing Service
  • Annual Report
  • Promotional Material
  • Moves Towards a Desirable Future (Ireland)
  • The Empowering Service
  • Person Centred Planning
  • Circles of Support
  • Person Centred Planning – The Caution
  • Advocacy & Self-Advocacy
  • Service Brokerage
  • Individualised Services & Creating a Real Home
  • Human Rights Based Approach
  • The Future Role of the Social Care Practitioner


To complete the course you will need to write a 2,500-word paper that explores the relationship between the course materials and the evolution and contemporary operation of disability services within your organisation. Practical in focus, you will have access to expert advice and the input of professional contemporaries when completing this assignment. Having access to this learning community provides an opportunity to understand disability services in a uniquely supportive environment.

Taking the Course

The course uses a ‘blended’ approach which combines online learning, virtual tutorials and face-to face workshops.

Our online learning materials are explicitly designed to accommodate the pressures that come with trying to balance work, life and learning. They make it possible to build study time around your work schedule. These are accessible through our learning centre which provides a platform for you to study, collaborate and communicate with your fellow learners. Regular online tutorials will expand your knowledge of the topic and answer any questions you have as you study.

Each workshop focuses on extending your understanding of the subject matter and helping you apply it in your working practice. The one-day session will be led by a subject matter expert who also has extensive experience in providing coaching/training to people working in the human services and non-profit sector.

Exploring Disability: A Sociological & Historical Perspective

Discussion, collaboration and the sharing of experiences are actively encouraged in order for the workshop to achieve one of its primary goals:

  • Facilitating the application of knowledge and skills acquired during the course to address real world challenges in a practical and effective manner.

Underpinning all of this is our learning community. This is made up of tutors who have extensive first-line experience, learning support staff who understand the human challenges people can face when attending college and our learners who are defined by their commitment to supporting each other.

We believe this creates a learning experience that is unique to the Open Training College, one that meets the specific requirements of people working in our sector and improves the quality of service our users receive. This is know as the Supported Open Learning Model. You can read more about it here.

The Learning Experience

The Tutor’s View – Raymond Watson

Exploring Disability: A Sociological & Historical Perspective Raymond Watson

Recent years has seen changes in the delivery of services for people with disabilities in Ireland. One of the most significant changes has been a move away from the charity ethos of disability service provision towards an ethos grounded in rights. In an environment of such fundamental and rapid change the need for developed, focussed and well managed services is evident.

Exploring disability as a course, recognises the changing world of human services and provides you with an insightful look into the history of disability services, the models that influence service delivery and the key values required to function effectively in this challenging environment. The course is an excellent foundation for anyone interested in the area of disability or social care; or an effective module to study, to maintain your professional journey, especially if your aim is to play a key role in forward looking services.

The Student View – Siobhan Baker, Special Needs Assistant in mainstream Primary School

Studying with the OTC was such a wonderful experience for me; it has given me confidence in myself.


The course is certified by the QQI/HET as a Level 6 Award. Successful participants will be awarded a single subject Certificate in Exploring Disability. Successful participants will hold 10 credits against the B.A. in Applied Social Studies (Disability) degree.

Next Steps

Dates & Duration

The next course starts on October 21st, 2019. It lasts for 6 weeks:

• Deadline for Applications: October 14th, 2019
• Exploring Disability commences: October 21st, 2019
• Workshop/Seminar: November 4th or 5th, 2019
• Assignment Due Date:December 2nd, 2019


The course costs €395 to attend.

Booking a Place

Apply via the Online Application Centre.

How Can We Help?

Contact us if you want to know more about the course.

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