The Inaccessible Road Not Taken: The Trials, Tribulations And Successes Of Disability Inclusion Within Social Work Post-Secondary Education


  • Irene Carter University of Windsor
  • Roy Hanes Carleton University
  • Judy E. MacDonald Dalhousie University



Disability, Inclusion, Accessibility, Education, Social Work, Curriculum, Activism


The authors share a common vision with respect to social justice and disability rights, displaying a common interest in making professional post-secondary education more responsive to persons with disabilities.  While the focus of this research and advocacy is stemming from the work of the Canadian Association of Social Work Education, Persons with Disabilities Caucus, the authors believe it is transferable and applicable to any faculty, school or department within an academic setting.  Within this paper, the authors will highlight eighteen years of work by the caucus including the initial formation of this group, a small group of academics across Canada who joined together with the purpose of transforming post-secondary social work education into an accessible, inclusive environment for disabled persons. Further, the authors will report on research findings related to disability inclusion within Canadian schools of social work, drawing upon the data from the initial survey in 2003 (Dunn, Hanes, Hardie, & MacDonald, 2006), with the primary focus on the most recent survey in 2010 – 2011. Finally, the authors will conclude this paper by presenting the barriers they faced while bringing about curricular and structural changes and the lessons learned from their journey. In essence, they will demonstrate how academics can unite to challenge post-secondary institutions in becoming more accessible to persons with disabilities.

Author Biographies

Irene Carter, University of Windsor

Irene Carter is an Associate Professor in the Disability Studies Program and the School of Social Work at the University of Windsor. Her current  research interests include developmental disabilities, autism, social support, group work, and social work and disability.

Roy Hanes, Carleton University

Roy Hanes, MSW, PhD. is Associate Professor of Social Work at Carleton University.  Hebegan his social work career as the senior social worker on the Spinal Cord Injury Unit at the Royal Ottawa Hospital in 1980. He is a founding member of the Ottawa Carleton Independent Living Centre.

At the university level, Roy developed and taught the first critical disability theories course offered at Carleton University and in fact it was the first such disability related course taught in schools of social work in Canada. During his academic career he 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 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.

Roy was a founding member of the Canadian Disability Studies Association and he has been an active member of disability rights organizations such as the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (Social Policy Committee) and he has been an executive member of the Canadian Centre for Disability Studies.

Judy E. MacDonald, Dalhousie University

Judy MacDonald is an Associate Professor of Social Work at Dalhousie Unversity. Her areas of expertise include disability, women’s health, anti-oppressive theory, violence against women, and feminist counseling.

How to Cite

Carter, I., Hanes, R., & MacDonald, J. E. (2012). The Inaccessible Road Not Taken: The Trials, Tribulations And Successes Of Disability Inclusion Within Social Work Post-Secondary Education. Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, 1(1), 109–142.