SERP 587 Psychosocial, Cultural and Familial Aspects of Disability

COURSE DATES AND TIMES: Tuesdays 9:00a.m. - 4:00 p.m.: January 17, 24, 31, February 7, 14, 21, 28, and March 7. All students meet in Tucson according to the Department schedule.

520 621-5170,
FAX: 520 621-3821
Office hours: Tuesdays at videoconferencing site, 12:00-1:00p.m.,
Wednesdays office, and by appointment

Exploration of the psychological, sociological, cultural and familial aspects of disability throughout the lifespan and implications; foundations for empowerment and enhancing self-esteem.

A. Purpose
The purpose of this course is to educate persons who presently or in the future plan to work with persons with disabilities in psychology, rehabilitation, special education or school psychology settings about the effects of disability upon psychological, social and cultural aspects of functioning for the person with a disability and for family members. The intent of the course is to educate students regarding the current knowledge base available relevant to psychological, social and cultural aspects of disability; to sensitize students to cultural issues and barriers related to disability; and to convey relevant practical information regarding working with consumers, family and employers regarding the impact of disability and disability issues. Consumer populations to which course information is relevant include age ranges throughout the life span from early years through old age; include physical, emotional, sensory, behavioral and cognitive disabilities; and include varied cultures.

B. Knowledge bases upon which the course rests
Psychosocial aspects of disability has been a required topic in rehabilitation counseling curricula since the beginning of accreditation of rehabilitation counseling programs in 1975. Literature regarding the experiences, life styles and options in society of persons with varied disabilities and exceptionalities has long existed. Certainly most persons are familiar with the depiction of the plight of Tom Thumb in A Christmas Carol, or of injured persons in the Red Badge of Courage and of varied characters with disabilities in **ens' novels. Increased interest in persons with disabilities can be seen in professional literature published in the late 1800's with still greater emphasis upon effects of disability with the later events of World War I and World War II. Considerable knowledge exists today with publications regularly occurring in fields such as nursing, rehabilitation, medicine, psychology, sociology, exercise and physiology, gerontology, child development, special education, and school psychology studying various psychosocial aspects of disability/exceptionality for the individual, for society and for the family.
Cultural aspects of disability/exceptionality must, of course, be considered in interpreting any of this literature and increasingly professional publications are exploring aspects of the experience of disability/exceptionality related to culture. Concepts presented in the course will utilize information available in rehabilitation literature from sources including the Journal of Rehabilitation, the Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, other rehabilitation journals, government documents and publications, as well as literature available in psychology, sociology, nursing and medicine.
Of importance in consideration of psychosocial/cultural aspects of disability is literature from the disability movement in the last ten years. That literature emphasizes disability culture and the inappropriateness of much literature and drama in fostering concepts of persons with disabilities as being unfortunate, or to be pitied.

American Annals of the Deaf
American Journal of Mental Deficiency
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry
American Journal of Psychiatry
American Psychologist
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Bilingual Research Journal
Education and Urban Society
Exceptional Children
Exceptional Children
Hispanic Journal of Behavior Sciences
Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling
Journal of Clinical Psychology
Journal of Learning Disabilities
Journal of Nerve and Mental Disease
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Journal of Social Issues, Vol. IV, 1948
Journal of Special Education
Journal of Rehabilitation
Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness (Previously New Outlook for the Blind)
Learning Disabilities Research and Practice
Psychological Reports
Psychosomatic Medicine
Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin
Rehabilitation Education
Rehabilitation Psychology
Volta Review (Deafness)

C. Relevance to SERSP curriculum

This course content is required by the Commission on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) for accreditation of the Rehabilitation Counseling specialty, and this course meets CORE accrediation standards. This is the primary course in Rehabilitation Counseling which is designed mainly to address psychological literature and research as an essential component of undergraduate and graduate training. This course effectively complements other courses that exist in SERP. Existant courses, such as SERP 583 Medical Aspects of Disability and SERP 565 Principles of Rehabilitation, address complementary content but do not focus on what is known from literature in psychology about psychological, social and cultural processes and disability. The other existant course in SERSP on culture emphasizes linguistic aspects of culture and is complementary to but is not duplicative of this course. The conceptual and concrete information and societal and cultural attitudes explored in this course provide essential psychological information for those who will be working with persons with disabilities/exceptionalities and their family members. This course has been approved by the entire SERSP faculty to meet Departmental requirements for a course including culture for any SERSP graduate student.

D. Target audience

The course will be designed primarily to address psychological literature as an essential component of the curriculum of graduate majors in rehabilitation. However, the psychological/ social/cultural concepts presented in this course are also relevant to persons currently working in Education, Special Education, School Psychology, School Counseling, Orientation and Mobility and other Human Service specialities.

E. Instructional methods to be used

Instructional methods include but are not limited to: lecture, discussion, guest speakers, experiential activities, projects, audiovisual aids, professional reading material, use of listserv and other technology, group work, and presentations.

F. Instructor policies regarding attendance and other issues

Attendance (including being on time) is required. Nonattendance results in loss of up to 10 points of the total earned points for each class period (half-day) missed. Attendance for a portion of the class does not constitute attendance for the entire class period. Students who are tardy or who leave early will loose points 5 points. Students who miss 30 minutes of a class period (half-day) will loose the entire 10 points for that half-day. Students are responsible for having attendance records accurately reflect any amount of class time attended/missed that day. (Students who wish to make sure that faculty perceptions of absences/tardiness are the same as theirs should submit a list of absent time to the instructor for review.) Please note that information about the reason for an absence or medical certifications for absences are of interest to the instructor in that that communicates your commitment to professional behavior. However, regardless of reason for time missed, points will be deducted for time missed.

Please note that students taking this class are in professional preparation programs. Professionals in working environments are expected to be present, on time, prepared, and behave in a professional manner. Likewise, students in professional training programs are expected to demonstrate such behaviors in the process of qualifying to become professionals.

special needs
Students requiring any assistance or modification in the course due to special needs are expected to explain those needs to the instructor prior to the beginning of the course to insure that adequate preparations are made. If the student has not contacted the instructor prior to the first class, no accommodations will be made during the first class meeting. A student who has not contacted the instructor prior to the first class, should do so immediately at the first break of the first class meeting. Students waiting until the first day of class to discuss special needs with the instructor will need to understand that accommodations cannot be provided for the first day of class. Students acquiring special needs during the term should discuss those with the instructor at the earliest possible time. Every effort will be made to accommodate special needs which are expressed in a timely manner which allows for adequate accommodation. The instructor reserves the right to consult with University employees at DRC (Disability Resource Center) or SALT Programs or University ADA personnel regarding adequate accommodation of special needs of any student in the class.

University standards of conduct
Students taking the course are expected to follow University policies regarding student conduct and plagiarism. Students are responsible for reading and understanding UA policies regarding student conduct. Assignments used in this course may not be or have been used to meet course requirements in any other course. Any material copied from sources and not appearing in quotes or any concepts that are not original that are not referenced in papers will be considered to be plagiarism and students involved will be referred to the Dean of Students Office. Difficulties involving student conduct of any kind are the responsibility of the UA Dean of Students Office, and faculty members must disclose knowledge of /information about student behavior to that Office. Rehabilitation faculty are likewise required to share knowledge of student conduct and behavior with other rehabilitation faculty members and supervisors.

Incompletes are highly discouraged. By University policy, incompletes are only available in special situations in which students have met the majority of requirements of a course during the term. In addition, material completed after the term is over does not allow for student interaction in the learning process which is a significant component in this course. The instructor may require additional assignments or may require the student to participate in missed aspects of interaction in a future offering of the course to compensate for interactive learning missed in a certain term. Incompletes can only be provided: 1) in situations that meet University requirements, and 2) when students (prior to the last day of classes) have completed the approved form requesting an incomplete and the information on the form has been formally approved.

computer use
All students taking this course are expected to provide an accurate, current email address and to monitor their email for any announcements referring to the class. Students are thus required to have an email address and provide that address to the instructor by the first day of class. Students needing computer assistance may arrange for or learn how to acquire such through the UA system from CCIT, 520 621-HELP. Students will be expected to use Internet as an information resource during the course. Computer instruction will NOT be provided as part of the course. Required readings for the class will be provided via e-reserve. Hard copies will not be provided to students except in disability accommodation situations.

writing/communication skills
All students taking the course are expected to be able to communicate orally and in written form with correct use of English words, syntax, grammar and at a professional level clarity and communication ability. Students who have English as a second language may wish to avail themselves of on-campus coursework in English prior to taking the course. Points will be deducted for oral and written communication that does not meet these standards.

Changes in course
The Instructor reserves the right to modify the syllabus by academic discretion and to adapt to changing class needs.


1. Students will develop a perspective on research-based information available relevant to psychological aspects of exceptionalities.

2. Students will have opportunities to develop/increase sensitivity to and respect for individuals with disabilities.

3. Students will develop an appreciation and understanding of cultural diversity and its impact upon learning and personal development.

4. Students will develop an awareness and understanding of possible impacts of disability upon the individual, family, and community throughout the lifespan.

5. Students will understand the concept of empowerment and how it relates to individuals with disabilities and the persons working with them.

6. Students will have opportunities to discuss their feelings and behaviors with regard to exceptionalities and various cultures. Behaviors that demonstrate a respectful and knowledgeable approach to persons with exceptionalities will be encouraged.

7. Students will learn theoretical concepts and principles which provide assistance in understanding psychological, sociological and some cultural aspects of illness and disability.

8. Students will review information concerning specific and general individual reactions to physical, mental and emotional disabilities and illness.

9. Students will integrate information relevant to theory, research and practice toward development of a comprehensive model for understanding the psychological/social/cultural impact of disability.

10. Students will review implications of psychosocial/cultural factors for programming and practice in special education and rehabilitation.

11. Students will develop an understanding of the interplay between psychosocial/cultural aspects of exceptionality and school/ employment/life goals.

12. Students will explore the effect of culture and social systems on the provision of quality services.

13. Students will increase awareness of disability culture.

14. Students will learn psychosocial aspects of disaster awareness as they may apply to
working with persons with disabilities.


Course topics include:
Disability-related language and attitudes
Psychological implications of adventitious and congenital disability
Psychological dynamics associated with hidden and visible disability
The family that gives birth to a child with a disability - common feelings, experiences,
psychological dynamics.
Child development and disability: disability during early childhood; Disability during adolescence
Disability and the changing family; family roles,expectations, dynamics
Discussing experiential assignment: spending time with a person with a disability
Disability, Marriage and Friends
Aging and disability
Adjustment and disability
Societal reactions to disability
Basic concepts regarding culture, race, ethnicity
General, culture and disability
Guests discussing psychosocial/cultural aspects of disability
Basic concepts regarding dynamics of disasters and disability considerations


Master’s students taking SERP 587 must be admitted to the Rehabilitation Counseling specialty or to another graduate program in SERP. Doctoral students taking SERP 587must be majoring or minoring in Rehabilitation. The courses in Principles of Rehabilitation and Medical Aspects of Disability should be taken prior to or concurrently with this course.



1. Meaningful class participation and attendance

Each student is expected to attend class, be on time, and to participate in all class activities. Students are expected to contribute to class discussions and be meaningfully involved in all group activities. Since the course is designed to use class activities and participation as a major learning tool, students who are unable to be present for class meetings scheduled this term, should plan to take the course another term. (Please note that attending a portion of the class period does not constitute full attendance.) (See other section of syllabus regarding attendance.)

2. Readings

Students are expected to complete all assigned readings. Questions from readings will be included on quizzes and exams. Readings other than the text will be assigned.

3. Quizzes

Students will complete two in-class quizzes on reading and lecture material. Students will receive two grades on the first quiz. One grade will be based upon the student's individual performance on the quiz. The second grade on the first quiz will be based upon the grade received by a small group in which the student participated after the individual quiz.. In the event that a student misses an exam, the individual administration of the exam may be made-up within one week of the exam provided that the student signs a statement indicating that he/she has not discussed the exam with anyone in the class after that person took the exam. Once an exam is graded and students receive their grades, the exam can no longer be made-up. Students who are aware of an exceptional circumstance that will result in their missing an exam may arrange to take the individual administration of the exam a week early. Students taking an exam early or late will be required to sign a statement indicating that they neither received information about the exam from other students nor gave information to other students about the exam.
Each exam will be worth 75 points. Students who have received permission for extra time on the exams need to arrange to take the exams early as immediately after the class takes the exam individually, the class will participate in the group administration of the exam. Students who take the exam early will be required to provide NO information about the exam to anyone else in the class prior to the class taking the exam. For any student who misses the group portion of the exam but takes the individual portion of the exam, the individual grade will be used for both the individual grade and again for the group grade.

4. Cultural Report
Each student will contribute to a group project exploring cultural aspects of disability.The group will assimilate information regarding a certain cultural group and aspects of cultural attitudes, beliefs, behaviors that may influence the way persons from that culture may view or respond to health care, medical treatment, disability, and aspects of the rehabilitation process. The group will conduct a class presentation sharing results of their investigation, and will give a written copy of their presentation to the instructor (listing all resources). The group will provide, via computer, to class members prior to the presentation, a list of suggestions for interacting with members of that cultural group in the rehabilitation process. Each group will submit a time log of dates, area of contribution worked on, and approximate time involved in those contributions for EACH MEMBER of the group. Each person’s individual log of contributions will be signed by every member of the group. Grades on the cultural report will include a specific points related on disability accommodation related to the presentation. Cultural reports will also be graded on accuracy and amount of content, attitudes of acceptance displayed toward the culture, presentation, and contribution to the group effort.

5. Small assignments
Small assignments may be given during any class. Points may be deducted from the total points earned of persons not completing assignments by the time they are due. Points will vary with the nature of the assignment.

6. Extra Credit:
Extra credit is not available in this class. Students wish to improve their grades should focus their time on the other point options in the course.


Students will be evaluated on all course assignments by a grading system supplied to students by the instructor. Points will be allocated for each assignment and grade will be based on total number of points earned minus any points lost for absences/tardiness. Students earning 90% of the possible points will receive an A; students earning 80%, a B; students earning 70%, a C; Students receiving 60%, a D; and any student not attaining 60% will receive an F. Attendance affects grades in the course by guidelines presented earlier in the syllabus.

Two exams
Exam 1: individual grade, 37.5 points
Exam 1: group grade, 37.5 points
Exam 2: individual grade, 75 points
total possible exam points = 150
Cultural Report, 100 points

Total possible points 250

NOTE: Deductions for lack of attendance or tardiness will be subtracted prior to computing the total points for the course.
A = 90% x 250 = 225
B = 80% x 250 = 200
C = 70% x 250 = 175
D = 60% x 250 = 150
F = Below D


TEXT: Marinelli, R.P. and Dell Orto, E.E. (Eds.), (1999). The Psychological and Social Impact of Disability. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Readings outside of the text on cultural aspects of disability will be required and arrangements will be made with the class regarding obtaining the readings.


Students who wish to obtain supplemental material may seek material from any of the professional journals listed earlier. Students should additionally seek information from library searches and from Internet. Students using internet information will be required to know the source of the information, the identity of the person posting the information, and the date when the material was last updated. APA referencing should be used with all sources of information, including electronic sources. Students will be required to discriminate between professional information posted on Internet and information which would not be expected to meet a standard of professional accuracy.
11. LAB EXPERIENCE: Does not apply to this course.

Last modified: Monday, 18 December 2006, 01:39 PM