About us

The department of Disability Inclusion and Special Needs (DISN) is built on a foundation of shared values – to be curious, open, and relentless in our pursuit of diverse ideas.

Our department includes the Autism Centre for Education and Research (ACER) and the Visual Impairment Centre for Teaching and Research (VICTAR), both major research centres, as well as teams specialising in special educational needs; educational psychology; hearing impairment; multi-sensory impairment; language, literacy and dyslexia; social, emotional and behavioural difficulties and severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties.

Our reach is truly international, from our teaching at our Dubai campus to research being undertaken in many parts of the world including Malawi, Italy, Brazil, Egypt, Norway, USA, Italy, Spain, Israel, Palestine, Greece and Uganda. Our work internationally reflects our aim to work with high quality partners globally to make a difference in the world. Across all of our research and teaching activities there is continued commitment to inclusion and social justice. 

Our Teaching

DISN is the largest education provider in disability education in the Europe, and sector leading in the field of inclusion and special needs, being the only professional development provider for all statutory Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in the UK.

Professional development programmes in DISN include undergraduate and masters-level programmes. Students at DISN get to work alongside experts with practical experience. Our evidence-based teaching marries practice and theory, and caters for different types of learning.

With a variety of specialisms available, we believe the student experience at DISN is like nowhere else. We encourage our professional students to shape what we teach and how we teach it, and also to participate in our research.

Our students are diverse, coming to us from both academic and vocational backgrounds. They work with full-time jobs, they live across the globe – and so our teaching goes ‘beyond 9-5’ and provides a deeply tailored and flexible learning environment available both online and on campus to suite your individual needs. With an excellent employability record our alumni leave with the ability to drive real-world change through their knowledge and strong leadership skills.

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Our Research

Aided by a wealth of practical experience, our research goes beyond theory and frameworks, providing the evidence base to support people with special educational needs and disabilities across the globe, from childhood to adulthood.

Our world ranking research has real life impact. Through conducting interdisciplinary research we continue to tackle social injustice, challenge misconceptions about disability and work to campaign vociferously to remove barriers to learning and employment.

  • Our recent research projects include, but are not limited to:
  • Investigating how to improve early childhood curriculum and teaching methods of pre-school carers for young children with disabilities in Malawi.
  • Inclusive education in Dubai.
  • Using robots as tools and mediums for developing the communication of autistic children.
  • Counselling and wellbeing for university students in Bhutan.
  • The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Our research, whether local, national or international in scale, shares the same principles. We draw on our wealth of global talent and local grassroots expertise to truly understand context, and design our research accordingly. DISN is more than a department, it is a global network of passionate people and organisations – a network you can become a part of.