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Interdisciplinary course on disability for B.D/M.Div degree programme

01 January 2004

EDAN: interdisciplinary course on disability


2. Description:

The course explores new ways of embracing an inclusive understanding of community in the contemporary pluralistic context incorporating the experiences of disability. The course will particularly focus on Biblical, theological, socio-cultural, religious and practical issues involved in the ministry to, with and by the persons with disabilities.

3. Purpose:

  • To create awareness of and sensitivity to the issues of disability
  • To explore religio-cultural resources to build an inclusive community.
  • To equip students for responsible engagement towards an inclusive community.

4. Duration:

50 class hours ( 4 credits)

5. Methodology:


Biblical, theological, multi-religious, social analysis and ministerial approaches. Emphasis will be given to the role and place of persons with disability in the church and the society at large for the realization of genuine inclusiveness.

6. Methods:

Field trips, mentoring, lectures by resource persons from different disciplines and experts, live-in experiences, case studies, class discussions, films, videos etc.

7. Learning outcomes


By the end of the course the student should be able to

  1. critically analyze existing traditional values, prejudices and practices in the society.

  2. explore and integrate Biblical, theological, socio-cultural, religious and ministerial resources with special reference to disability concerns.

  3. evolve a theology that is all inclusive in a pluralistic society.

  4. directly engage in active advocacy actions in the churches and society.

  5. engage the congregation on disability concerns through bible studies, accessibility assessment, liturgical worship, sermons, training and advocacy for leadership and full inclusion of persons with disability.

8. Course Outline


I. Introduction


A. Definition of terms: ‘inclusive society' and ‘disability'


B. Persons with Disabilities in Indian Society

  1. Historical Insights

    1. Disability and caste

    2. Disability and gender

    3. Disability and poverty

    4. Disability and war

    5. Disability and globalisation

    6. Disability and religious fundamentalism and communalism

  1. Identifying the Problems
    Stigma and discrimination, taboos, reincarnation, karma-samsara (rebirth), psychological issues, attitudes, sexuality, isolation etc.

  1. Church and Persons with Disabilities

  2. Services to the Persons with Disabilities
    Education, employment, health, infrastructure etc.

  1. Legislations on Disability

  2. Disability Rights Movements

II. Disability in the global context - A Brief Survey


A. UNO and Human Rights


B. Disability Movements
International Disability Alliance (IDA), World Blind Union (WBU), Disabled Peoples International (DPI), International Federation of the Deaf (IFD), World Network of Psychiatric Users and Survivors (WNPU&S), World Union of Deaf and Blind (WUDB), Inclusion International (II).


Rehabilitation International (RI), Christoffel Blinden Mission (CBM)


D. Ecumenical Initiatives (WCC, CCA, NCCs)


III. Contextual Experiences: Practical Dimension I


(Students are expected to engage in practical research in any of the following. All reports will be presented and discussed in the class.)

  1. Individual Case Studies

  2. Local Churches and Disability

  3. Social/Governmental Organisations and Disability

IV. Disability and Inclusive Community: Biblical and Theological Reflections


A. Hermeneutics:

  1. Traditional understanding with regard to Persons with Disabilities

  2. Re-reading of the Bible from the perspective of Persons with Disabilities

B. God and Creation:
The doctrine of creation; the sovereign and perfect God and the imperfect creation; commonalities and differences; implications of "being made in the image and likeness of God"; God and justice


C. Sin and Salvation
Biblical and theological views of disability; pre-destination and disability; sin and suffering; body and soul; disability and wholeness; healing and curing


D. Ecclesiology
Belonging to the Body of Christ; a church of all and for all


E. Reinterpreting Eschatology
Death, resurrection and eternal life


V. Disability and Inclusive Community: Religio-Cultural Considerations

A brief survey of perspectives and practices related to disability, and insights of inclusive community in different religious traditions.

VI Disability and Inclusive Community: Pastoral and Ministerial Considerations

A. Recognising persons with disabilities as members of the family of God and full participant members of the church; respecting and utilising their gifts; giving expressions to practical implications of healing, hospitality and integration.

B. The role of the church in making appropriate infrastructure accessible.

C. Expressing solidarity by supporting the families of PWD.

D. Engage the church in building inclusive community in the society.


VII Action Plans Towards Inclusive Community: Practical Dimension II

Students need to be encouraged to develop ministerial commitment in relation to PWD and to plan programmes and strategies for building inclusive communities. They should be encouraged to try out their programmes and strategies practically. This segment of the curriculum may be integrated with the field education programme of theological institutions.


IX Evaluation/Assessment


Assignments, fieldwork, and examination.


Suggested Readings

Abrams, Judith. Judaism and Disability: Portrayals in Ancient Text from the Tanach through the Bavli. Washington, D.C.: Gallaudet University Press Press, 2000


Benton, Janice LaLonde and Mary Jane Owen. Opening Doors to People with Disabilities, Vol. I: Pastoral Manual and Vol. II: The Resource File. Washington, DC: National Catholic Office for Persons with Disabilities, 1997.


Black, Kathy. A Healing Homiletic: Preaching and Disability. Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1996.


Block, Jennie Weiss. Copious Hosting: A Theology of Access for People with Disabilities. New York, New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002.


Byrd, E. Keith. "Concept Related to Inclusion of the Spiritual Component in Serivices to Persons with Disability and Chronic Illness", Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling. 28.4 (1997): 26-29

Cariappa, Meena. How to Help Your Disabled Child. New Delhi: UBS Publishers, 1997.

Coulter, David L. and William C. Gaventa, ed. Journal of Religion, Disability and Health. Quarterly Journal. Binghamton, New York: The Haworth Pastoral Press.


Coulter, David and William C. Gaventa, ed. The Theological Voice of Wolf Wolfensberger. Binghamton, NY. The Haworth Pastoral Press. 2001.


Culshaw, Murray. It will be soon be Dark: The Situation of the Disable in India. Delhi: Lithouse Publications, 1983.


Davie, Ann Rose and Ginny Thornburgh. That All May Worship: An Interfaith Welcome to People with Disabilities. Washington, DC: National Organization on Disability, 2000.


Eiesland, Nancy L. The Disabled God: Toward a Liberatory Understanding of Disability. Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1994.


Eiesland, Nancy L. and Donald E. Saliers. Human Disability and the Service of God: Reassessing Religious Practice. Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1998.


Epperly, Bruce G. God's Touch: Faith, Wholeness and the Healing Miracles of Jesus. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001.


Fritzon Arne and Samuel Kabue. Interpreting Disability: A Church of All and For All. WCC Publication, Geneva, 2004


Gaventa, Bill, ed. Dimensions of Faith and Congregational Ministries with Persons with Developmental Disabilities and their Families. New Brunswick, New Jersey: The Boggs Center-UAP, 2002.


Gaventa, William & Peters, R.K. "Spirituality and self-Actualization: Recognizing Spiritual Needs and Strengths of Individuals with Cognitive Limitations" in The Forgotten Generation: the Status and Challenges of Adults with Mild Cognitive Limitation, Baltimore: Brookes Publishing, 2001: 299-320.


Govig, Stewart D. Souls are Made of Endurance: Surviving Mental Illness in the Family. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994.


Ikeler, Bernard, Parenting Your Disabled Child. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1986.


Kutz-Mellem, Sharon, ed. Different Members One Body: Welcoming the Diversity of Abilities in God's Family. Louisville, Kentucky: Witherspoon Press, 1998.


Lane, Harlen. When the Mind Hears, New York: Vintage Books, 1984.


Linton, Simi. Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity. New York: N Y University Press, 1998.


Longmore and Umansky, eds. The New Disability History. New York: University Press, 2001.


Longmore, P. Why I Burn My Book and Other Essays on Disability. Temple University Press, 1988.


Nouwen, Henri J.M. Adam: God's Beloved. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1997.


Nouwen, Henri J.M. The Wounded Healer. New York, New York: Image Books, Doubleday, 1972.


Padden and Humphries, Deaf in America: Voices from a Culture. Harvard University Press, 1988.


Pierson, Jim. Exceptional Teaching: A Comprehensive Guide for Including Students with Disabilities. Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing, 2002.


Reeves, Kathy N., Accessibility Audit for Churches: A United Methodist Resource Book About Accessibility. New York, New York: General Board of Global Ministries. The United Methodist Church, 1994.


Shapiro, Joseph P. No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging A New Civil Rights Movement. New York, New York: Random House Inc., 1993.


Scott, Robert. The Making of Blind Man. Transaction Publishers, 1969.


Shearer, Ann. Disability: Whose Handicap?. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1981.


Thornburgh, Ginny, ed. Loving Justice: The ADA and the Religious Community. Washington, DC: National Organization on Disability, 1999.


Thomson, Rosemarie Garland. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature. Columbia University Press, 1996.


Freakery: Cultural Spectacles of the Extraordinary Body. New York University Press, 1996.


United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Washington, DC: Pastoral Statement, 1978. Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities, 1995. Welcome and Justice for Persons with Disabilities, 1998.


Vaughn, Edwin. The Struggle 0f Blind People for Self-Determination. Charles Thomas Publishers, 1993.


Van Dongan-Ganad, Jessie. Invisible Barriers: Pastoral Care with Physically Disabled. London: SPCK, 1983.


Vanier, Jean. Community and Growth. Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press, 1989.


Walker, Robert L. Breaking the Sound Barrier in Your Church. New York, New York: General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church, 2001.


Weiss, Jules C. Experience Theraphy with Elders and the Disabled. New York: Haworth Press, 1984.


WCC, Geneva. A Church of All and For All: An Interim Theological Statement. WCC 2004


Webb-Mitchell, Brett. Dancing with Disabilities: Opening the Church to All God's Children. Cleveland, Ohio: United Church Press, 1996.