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New Program to Educate Disability Advocates
Georgetown has launched a new program through the School of Continuing Studies (SCS) in response to the growing need for in-depth training and understanding of disabilities.

In the fall, SCS will start offering a master of professional studies and an advanced professional certificate in disability studies for students who want to explore the many roles of disability in social, cultural, historical and political contexts. 

Nearly 54 million U.S. children and adults live with some form of mental or physical handicap -- accounting for more than 18 percent of the population.

"One aspect of our school's mission is to provide programs that answer today's biggest societal needs," says SCS Dean Robert Manuel. "The disability studies program will bring the industry's top experts into the classroom exposing students to the most current political, societal, financial and emotional issues surrounding this growing and important career field."

Students pursuing either option have the choice of focusing on one of three tracks -- developmental disabilities, early intervention or mental health care systems for children.

The new program, which grew out of the Center for Child and Human Development, will provide students with the resources and knowledge needed to build a career in the field.    

"Professionals who understand disability within a sociocultural perspective will be better able to promote the inclusion of individuals with disabilities as fully participating members of our communities with the same rights as all other citizens," says Toby Long, associate dean of the disability studies program. "Graduates of the program will be leaders advocating for individuals with disability, providing community-based services, developing policy and participating in scholarship in the area of disability."

For nearly 30 years, Long has focused on the evaluation and assessment of early intervention and service delivery to children with disabilities as well as the training of the professionals involved.

Aside from her duties as associate dean, she also is director of training and physical therapy at the Center for Child and Human Development. Her research has explored outcomes of premature infants as well as family-centered, community-based, comprehensive, integrated care for children with disabilities.

"Offering a disability studies program was a natural fit with Georgetown's mission, given the Jesuit traditions of caring for the whole person -- cura personalis -- and helping those most in need," Manuel says.  "Our location in Washington, D.C., is also ideal for students who want to be involved in disability related advocacy and policymaking."

-- Rachel Pugh

(March 5, 2010)
'Graduates of the program will be leaders advocating for individuals with disability, providing community-based services, developing policy and participating in scholarship in the area of disability.' -- Toby Long associate dean of the disability studies program

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