Disability and Social Work Education in the United Kingdom


  • MacDonald Judy Dalhousie University
  • Irene Carter University of Windsor
  • Roy Hanes Carleton University
  • Suzanne McMurphy University of Windsor
  • Stephanie Skinner University of Windsor




Disability, Social Work Education, United Kingdom, Curriculum


Social workers come into the lives of disabled persons on a daily basis. Yet, few schools of social work have a strong disability curricular focus. The researchers report on findings of a survey of disability and social work education in the United Kingdom. The findings include data on course offerings, curricula, field experiences, policies, equity policies regarding admission, and the number of disabled faculty and students in each program. Similarities and differences in supporting the unsettling of ableism, as well as advances pertaining to disability inclusion are discussed.  

Author Biographies

MacDonald Judy, Dalhousie University

Judy E. MacDonald, Associate Professor and Interim Director, School of Social Work, Dalhousie University.  Her social work practice experience was based in hospital social work and private practice, where she focused upon palliative care, grief and bereavement, and woman abuse.  Judy identifies as a woman with a (dis)Ability, having lived with chronic pain for over 25 years.  A great deal of her scholarship focuses upon access and inclusion within post-secondary institutions for students with (dis)Abilities. Judy has been instrumental in crafting and promoting an Accommodation Policy for the School, and she co-chairs the Faculty of Health Professions’ Affirmative Action Committee. She has been co-chair of the CASWE Persons with Disability Caucus for fifteen years, and she is currently the Anglophone Editor of the Canadian Social Work Review journal.

Irene Carter, University of Windsor

Irene Carter, PhD, Co-ordinator of the Masters of Social Work Program at the University of Windsor, Ontario. Irene`s scholarship focuses on intellectual disabilities, self-help and support groups, online teaching, and curriculum development for social work and disability studies. Her research projects current research projects include children with disabilities and adoptive parents, adult siblings of children with autism, parents of adult children with dual diagnosis, and the inclusion of courses and programs about disability in social work in the US, UK, Australia, and India. 

Roy Hanes, Carleton University

During his academic career Professor Hanes has taught disability focused courses at the BSW and the MSW levels and he has supervised disability related honours essays, independent studies, MSW thesis, and he has supervised disability studies research at the PhD level. Roy has carried out research and published in the areas of disability history, disability and immigration, disability and employment, and disability supports. In addition, he was involved in a research project which explored accessibility, accommodation and supports within schools of Social Work across Canada. He has presented papers at local, national and international conferences and he developed and taught the first Social Work and Persons with Disabilities Course in Russia.

Suzanne McMurphy, University of Windsor

Suzanne M. McMurphy, Ph.D., MSS, MLSP, is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work and Vice Chair of the Research Ethics Board at the University of Windsor. Her research interests include the role of interpersonal and institutional trust in the delivery of health, mental health and social services.  As a Fulbright Scholar to Sweden, she compared the differences in values frameworks informing child welfare and juvenile justice systems internationally.  Since then, she has continued to explore the use of simulation and technology in training professionals to evaluate policy initiatives and assess the ethical implications of policy and program initiatives.  Her research has been funded by the National Institute of Justice and the National Institutes of Health. 

Stephanie Skinner, University of Windsor

Stephanie Skinner is in the Masters of Social Work/ Juris Doctor joint program at the University of Windsor. Her current research projects include disability and mental health issues within the context of education, constitutional, human rights, administrative law and policy. She is the recipient of the Disability Legal Studies Fellowship which will allow her to attend the University of California Berkley and conduct comparative research on Canadian and American disability law. 

How to Cite

Judy, M., Carter, I., Hanes, R., McMurphy, S., & Skinner, S. (2014). Disability and Social Work Education in the United Kingdom. Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, 3(3), 53–82. https://doi.org/10.15353/cjds.v3i3.173