Teaching Disability Studies Across Disciplines



Target Audience

  • Post-Secondary Faculty and Professionals
  • Administrators
  • Community Leaders
  • General Public


  • Megan Conway, Director of Instruction and Training, Center on Disability Studies, UHM



Historian Douglas Baynton coined the famous observation that “disability is everywhere, once you begin looking for it, but conspicuously absent in the histories we write." Baynton’s plea brought disability out of the margins of his profession and became part of a larger movement towards disability studies in the academy. This panel follows Baynton’s dictum that disability is everywhere and locates disability as a subject of serious academic inquiry in disciplines not typically associated with disability studies. We are faculty at the University of Hawai’i in a variety of disciplines who all use disability in our research and teaching. We will give examples of the ways we incorporate disability into our syllabi, central writings in disability studies that have informed our research, and suggestions for deepening disability connections within academic communities. 

Learning Outcomes

  • Increase understanding of how disability studies can be applied to various disciplines;
  • Gain ideas about strategies for integrating disability studies into the curriculum;
  • Learn how to become part of a network of scholars interested in disability studies.

Seminar Panelists

Photo: Rhonda Black

Rhonda Black, Ed.D. is a Professor of Special Education at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa where she teaches and conducts research in strategies for adolescents with disabilities, cultural considerations, and media representation of disability. Her primary focus is preparing teachers and education leaders in the field of special education.

Photo: Steve Brown

Historian Steven  Brown is a retired Professor and Disabilities Scholar, Center on Disability Studies, University of Hawai‘i at Manoa (currently Affiliate Faculty); Co-Founder of the Institute on Disability Culture, and 2015 Diversity and Inclusion Fellow for the Association of University Centers on Excellence in Disabilities (AUCD) Diversity and Inclusion Initiative. Dr. Brown, a former editor of the Review of Disability Studies, has published many articles about disability rights and disability culture and is a national and international speaker.

Photo: Megan Conway

Megan Conway is Interdisciplinary Training Coordinator with the Center on Disability Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. She is also the Editor of the Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal. She has been in the disability studies field for over 20 years. She teaches graduate level disability studies courses via distance education, and also conducts in-person and web-based professional development seminars on numerous disability and diversity topics.

Photo: Vrinda Dalmiya

Vrinda Dalmiya is Professor in the Philosophy Dept, University of Hawaii, Manoa. She is the author of Caring to Know: Comparative Care Ethics, Feminist Epistemology, and the Mahābhārata (OUP, 2016). Her research interests are in care ethics, feminist epistemology, environmental philosophy and comparative philosophy. She is also interested in the intersections of feminist theory and disability studies. 

Photo: Katharina Heyer

Katharina Heyer is Associate Professor and Graduate Chair in the UHM Department of Political Science. Her research and teaching focus on the sociolegal inquiry into rights, social movements, and disability politics. She has published in national and international journals on disability rights movements and comparative disability law. Her book Rights Enabled: The Disability Revolution (2015 Univ. Michigan Press) follows the journey of disability rights from the United States to Japan, Germany and the United Nations and examines ways that notions of disability, equality, and rights become reinterpreted and contested by national and global networks.

Photo: Brett Oppegaard

Brett Oppegaard, PhD, an Associate Professor at the University of Hawaii, studies ubiquitous computing, mobile media, and media accessibility. He is the principal investigator on The UniD Project (www.unidescription.org) – a collaboration among UH, the National Park Service, the American Council of the Blind, and Google, Inc. – which is an effort to improve audio description nationwide. He works in the School of Communications, within the College of Social Sciences at University of Hawaii’s flagship Manoa campus.