Course dates:


Free access without certificate

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 encompasses a 6-week period. Participants are expected to engage in approximately 30 hours of active learning through readings, videos, podcasts, discussions, and quizzes. The course is based on a participatory approach aimed at developing and reinforcing personal critical reflection and peer-to-peer learning. Case studies will be used to identify cross-regional and cross-cutting issues and enable a multidimensional understanding of practical application.



This MOOC is divided in two modules.

Module 1: This Module 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: This Module 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…).


Target Audience

The course 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.


Certificate of participation

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.