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European Regional Master's Degree in Democracy and Human Rights in South East Europe
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Disability as a human rights issue: global and national perspectives

MOOC Course


Period: 12 September - 24 October 2016
Application deadline: October 14, 2016


Persons with disabilities are frequently marginalized in society and face numerous challenges in the enjoyment of their human rights. In the past such challenges were seen as an unavoidable consequence of their impairments. More recently, the introduction of a human rights-based model of disability has contributed to a shift in perceptions and attitudes. Viewing disability from a human rights standpoint implicates a change in the way States and all sectors of society consider persons with disabilities: no longer as recipients of medical care and charity or objects of others’ decisions, but holders of rights. This free and open to all MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) provides participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively approach disability from a human rights perspective. Drawing from expertise and examples at the global and national level, it offers a multidisciplinary and multifaceted overview of historical developments, main standards, key issues, and current challenges in this area of human rights protection.

Learning objectives

On completion of the course, participants will be able to:

  • understand the development of disability as a human rights issue;
  • recognize and apply human rights standards related to disability, from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to national instruments;
  • appreciate the rights of persons with disabilities from a comparative perspective;
  • relate theoretical concepts and approaches regarding non-discrimination and equality to specific case studies, with particular attention to intersectional discrimination.

The course is self-paced so participants can study in their own time. However, to enhance peer learning, interactive participation and self-assessment, weekly discussions and module quizzes are proposed at set dates. To successfully complete the course and receive a certificate of participation, students must take part in at least four weekly discussions and pass two quizzes.


The Global Campus of Regional Master’s Programmes and Diplomas in Human Rights and Democratisation (Global Campus of Human Rights) is a unique network of more than a hundred universities around the world with the overall aim of educating human rights defenders committed to upholding the universal values of human rights and democracy. Reflecting this international spirit and multidimensional approach, the course is taught by academics and experts drawn from all regions of the world and a cross-section of constituencies, enabling participants to benefit from rich and varied competences, experiences and knowledge.

The course has been developed under the leadership of the Human Rights Centre of the University of Pretoria, home of the LLM in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa.

The course is structured in two Modules:

Module 1 focuses on how disability has been gradually linked with human rights discourses. It also explains how the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities reinforced a key paradigm shift with the move from the medical model to the social and rights-based model. The second part of the Module then looks at the application of the Convention to specific areas of implementation such as education and independent living.

Module 2 looks at some fundamental issues of implementation but enriches overall knowledge with regional and national perspectives. Aspects of laws, policies, monitoring and advocacy on the rights of persons with disabilities are first framed in general terms and then considered through the lens of case studies, examples and local practice (Kenya, Argentina, Ireland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Thailand…).


How to participate

The MOOC on Disability as a human rights issue: global and national perspective is free and open to participants (students, practitioners, social workers…) from all over the world who are actively interested and engaged in disability work at different levels and wish to deepen their knowledge about a rights-based approach to disability.

The course is offered in cooperation with Canvas Network, one of the leading providers of open online learning for everyone, everywhere. The platform is built with open, adaptable, reliable, native cloud technologies that empower learning in every context. With a user-friendly and innovative interface, our course offers an interactive and engaging learning experience without geographical limitations, allowing participants to enjoy being part of a truly global network of experts and committed human rights defenders.


Information & contacts

The Global Campus MOOC Staff

address: Monastery of San Nicolò, Riviera San Nicolò, 26 • I-30126 Venice Lido (VE)
Tel: +39 041 2720911
Fax: +39 041 2720914


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