About us

Within the School of Education sits the department of Disability Inclusion and Special Needs (DISN). This is a unique department which specialises in research and teaching, seeking to better understand and improve the inclusion of people in education and society more broadly.

We have undertaken research and teaching in many parts of the world including Brazil, Bhutan, Canada, Dubai, Egypt, Greece, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Malta, Malawi, the Philippines, South Africa, Sweden, Uganda and the USA.

Why choose us?

DISN leads the way in education and training for professionals in the UK and abroad who work with children or adults with disability or additional learning or support needs.

We aim to inspire learners by offering a range of distinctive postgraduate and professional development programmes to help you flourish and develop your practice. We understand the importance of flexibility for our students and many of our courses are available as part time study and/or distance learning. 


A fundamental part of DISN is research, with more than 100 doctoral researchers currently active within the department. It is unique worldwide in the breadth and depth of this research expertise and members are in demand nationally and internationally for research, consultancy and teaching.

Members of DISN adopt a broad range of theoretical positions in relation to the field of inclusion and special needs education and the synergy generated from these different perspectives is one of the department’s strengths.

Our research focuses on:

  • Policy and theoretical analyses of schools, systems and support structures
  • Developing methods and methodologies, particularly participatory research and the use of innovative technologies 
  • Language and literacy 
  • Cognitive and developmental needs
  • Professional development, particularly with reference to e-learning
  • The circumstances and needs of particular special educational needs and disability groups

Our research activities include studies of policy, practice and provision to meet a diversity of learner needs as well as research which focuses on specific aspects of disability. We also have two dedicated research centres - The Autism Centre for Education and Research (ACER) and the Visual Impairment Centre for Teaching And Research (VICTAR).

Contact Details

Professor Karen Guldberg
Head of Department 
Email: k.k.guldberg@bham.ac.uk

Professor Graeme Douglas
Deputy Head of Department
Email: g.g.a.douglas@bham.ac.uk

Department Administrator

Email: disn-admin@contacts.bham.ac.uk

Twitter: ‎@DISN_UoB