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Disability Studies Diploma

Imagine a rewarding career helping others reach their maximum potential. The 16 month diploma program will equip you to support the well-being of children and adults with disabilities, while taking an active role in creating inclusive and diverse communities.

After graduation, you can work in a leadership role in a variety of services that support children and adults with disabilities, including education settings, not-for-profit community agencies, or directly with families.

The program combines innovative classroom learning strategies with practical experiences to lay a solid foundation for challenging careers. Program delivery is classroom-based and classes are generally scheduled between 8 am and 5 pm from Monday to Friday.

For students intending to take the diploma online, please note that not all courses are offered online every term, which will affect the duration of your program (longer than 16 months for diploma students).

Prospective learners who live outside of Alberta and will be completing their practicum outside of Alberta, are required to speak to the Program Coordinator prior to applying for the program to discuss insurance regulations. Contact 403-410-1650 to speak to the Program Coordinator.”

Students registered in the traditional full-time Disability Studies Diploma program are required to write the Test of Workplace Essential Skills (TOWES) assessment in semester one.

Instructor Bios

Disability Studies instructor biographies

Need more info?

For more information about this program, call 403-410-1402.

Courses in Program

Curriculum is subject to change

Click on the course to view the course description.

Semester 1

ENGL1201 - English: Composition (3 credits, 45 hours)

Learners will explore various genres of English composition. This course is not remedial; competency in high-school grammar and composition is required.
Prerequisites: None

DAST1101 - Introduction to Disability Studies (3 credits, 45 hours)

Disability Studies is a study of the social, cultural, historical, and philosophical perspectives of disability. It is grounded by the belief that the creation of knowledge about disability should be WITH/BY disabled people themselves. This course will provide learners with the historical background of disability and the contexts and paradigms it currently uses today.
Prerequisites: None

DAST1201 - Person Centered Planning (3 credits, 45 hours)

Developing a vision WITH a person involves being able to envision a positive and valued future for and with the person and their network of allies. This course introduces the learner to the process of planning a vision with people with disabilities. Current planning strategies will be reviewed and critiqued with emphasis on the philosophical principles and values that underlie each approach. Learners will practice writing clear implementation plans that incorporate the practices of inclusion, empowerment, and individualization in the planning process.
Prerequisites/Co-Requisites: HMSV1101

EDAS1302 - Introduction to Exceptionalities (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course develops knowledge of the history, philosophy, legislation, values, trends, and issues related to exceptional learners. It explores student inclusion and provides a wide overview of exceptionalities ranging from mild to severe and childhood to adulthood. Access and retrieval of information on exceptionalities is emphasized.
Prerequisites: None

COMM1101 - Interpersonal Relationships and Communication Skills (3 credits, 45 hours)

Learners develop strategies necessary for effective and accurate communication in relationships with others, within a variety of contexts. They explore theories and concepts of interpersonal communication and reflect on their own values, beliefs, attitudes, and experiences. Emphasis is placed on self-awareness, cultural diversity in communication, and conflict management. In addition, it focuses on the development of personal strengths and self-awareness that contribute to the development of communication skills and positive relationships.
Prerequisites: None

Semester 2

DAST1202 - Disability Work Management and Supported Employment (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course is an introduction to the historical and contemporary models of services and supports for those who face barriers in employment. It will introduce practices that engage people to discover their personal and professional potential through employment and community contribution. An emphasis will be placed on the importance of creating and sustaining valued roles for marginalized people in society.
Prerequisites: None

PSYC1201 - Human Growth and Development Across the Lifespan (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course provides a comprehensive overview of human growth and development and typical behavioural responses throughout the lifespan. You will analyze human development across three domains: biological, psychological, and sociological. Emphasis is placed upon the stages of development and their linkage to common events occurring during these stages.
Prerequisites: None

DAST1401 - Positive Behaviour Support (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course introduces learners to the concept of human behaviour as communication, as well as the approaches and techniques that may be used in response to difficult and challenging behaviours demonstrated by a person with disabilities. The focus is on designing "positive behavioural change strategies" for a variety of settings: home, work, school, community. These strategies will include teaching functional skills as well as supporting communication development and positive behavioural change.
Prerequisites: None

DAST1999 - The Field of Disability Studies (6 credits, 180 hours)

This practicum gives learners the opportunity to begin integrating theory and practice in the provision of support services to people with disabilities. Learners are placed in community and agency settings and supervised by agency staff. Weekly seminars provide opportunity for reflection and the integration of theory and practice.
Prerequisites/Co-Requisites: 12 credits of DCSC/DCSD program

DAST1301 - Health and Wellness (3 credits, 45 hours) [Online Only]

This course is an introduction to the general principles of mental health and highlights the key strategies in promoting health and wellness. Learners will examine the co-existences of a developmental disability and mental health concern. The focus will be on the critical importance of day to day supports for mental health and wellness.
Prerequisites: None

Semester 3

HMSV2401 - Family and Society Studies (3 credits, 45 hours)

This advanced course focuses on building skills for working cooperatively with children and adults in a family. The course covers diverse family structure and relationships as well as issues facing families today. The course involves instruction, role play, and integration on theories of practice with difficult family dynamics. Discussions include family theory from diverse perspectives.
1 OF: P in ADDC1999 (PRE), P in DAST1999 (PRE), P in ELCC1999 (PRE)

HMSV2501 - Social Policy (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course is designed to help learners become critically aware of the economic, social, and political environment within which they will eventually work. It will examine the process by which health, social policy, and justice policy, is developed in Canada and encourages reflection upon the ways social policy impacts our lives.
Prerequisites: None

DAST2998 - The Role of the Disability Support Worker (6 credits, 180 hours)

This course provides learners with an overview of the skills and attitudes necessary to work professionally and competently with people with disabilities and complex behaviour needs. The focus is on developing an understanding of the diverse roles that Community Support Practitioners in a complex behaviour needs setting are responsible for in their day-to-day work with people and communities. Learners will have the opportunity to develop knowledge of the skills required to completely fulfill such roles as community advocate, employment coach, residential support worker, outreach worker, team leader, and case manager. Learners also apply their knowledge of assessment to the design of a behaviour support plan that integrates multi-element positive behaviour interventions and strategies.
Prerequisites: DAST1999
Prerequisites/Co-Requisites: 6 credits of 2nd year DCSD program

HMSV2302 - Positive Behaviour Approaches and Complex Needs (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course explores the factors that motivate behaviour and learning. Learners study life outcomes for people with disabilities and complex behaviour needs through an integrated system lens that includes positive behaviour supports, person centered planning and wraparound services. Through the use of ecological and functional assessment tools learners will develop a variety of multi-element positive behavior intervention and supports that focus on quality of life. 
Prerequisites: HMSV1301
1 OF: P in ADDC1999 (PRE), P in DAST1999 (PRE), P in ELCC1999 (PRE)

Plus One (1) of the following electives:

FASD1301 - Brain Function and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course offers an introduction to the challenges faced by individuals affected by prenatal alcohol exposure, their families, support workers, and the community. Topics include terminology, assessment/diagnostic processes, and primary and secondary characteristics as they present across the lifespan. Emphasis is on components and functions of the brain and the impact of prenatal alcohol exposure on attention, memory, cognition, language, sensory perception, social emotional behaviours and impulsivity. 
Prerequisites: None

HMSV1302 - Assistive Technology and Principles of Universal Design (3 credits, 45 hours)

In this course learners will explore a variety of current assistive technologies and how these tools can be used to increase access for people with disabilities. Learners will develop strategies to effectively introduce and integrate assistive technology. Learners will explore the principles of universal design and how these principles can increase access for all students by modifying previously created resources so that they are accessible and usable for people with disabilities or special needs.

HMSV1501 - Introduction to Counselling (3 credit, 45 hours)

This course introduces learners to basic counselling skills. As such, it is designed to help learners develop essential helping skills needed for client engagement, follow-through, completion and overall therapeutic effectiveness. Specific skills and techniques covered include; developing rapport, building empathy and listening, encouraging trust, self-disclosure, immediacy, questioning and evoking, addressing discrepancies, etc. It will also take a look at the theories behind effective techniques such as motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioural therapy, person centered and solution focus therapies. This course is highly experiential in its format. Learners will participate in classroom exercises, role playing and receiving feedback from Instructors and peers.
Prerequisites: None

Semester 4

HMSV2502 - Facilitating Groups (3 credits, 45 hours)

Working with and facilitating groups is a key activity for the human services professional. In this course, learners explore the stages of development, group roles and norms, theoretical framework, intervention, group design, implementation, and evaluation. The course offers opportunities to develop facilitation skills for groups of varying membership.
1 OF: P in ADDC1999 (PRE), P in DAST1999 (PRE), P in ELCC1999 (PRE)

HMSV2503 - Leadership in Human Services (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course focuses on the theoretical and practical principles of effective leadership. In addition, learners explore the theory, structure, and management of organizations as a foundation for program development in the context of human services organizations and funders. 
1 OF: P in ADDC1999 (PRE), P in DAST1999 (PRE), P in ELCC1999 (PRE)

DAST2401 - Community Connections and Inclusion (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course introduces the skills for building community capacity to support and include members with disabilities in meaningful ways. Learners develop knowledge about community development, accessibility through universal design, the essential skills of networking, and the art of relationship building. Emphasis falls on building and nurturing community connections between citizens in a way that values the unique skills and strengths of people with and without disabilities.
Prerequisites: DAST1999

DAST2999 - Leadership in Disability Studies (6 credits, 180 hours)

This course consists of hands-on experience in an agency that provides services to people with disabilities. The practicum enables learners to apply the theory, principles, and techniques to the service setting. Learners follow an area of interest by completing a capstone project that focuses knowledge, experience, research, and analysis of an area identified with the agency. Weekly seminars provide opportunity for reflection and the exploration of theory and practice.
Prerequisites: DAST2998
Prerequisites/Co-Requisites: 12 credits of 2nd year DCSD program

Plus One (1) of the following electives:

DAST2301 - Advanced Topics in Disability Studies (3 credits, 45 hours)

This interactive course focuses on advocacy issues in the field of Disability Studies and the impact on the lives of people with disabilities and their families. Stages of social change and tools used in lobbying are taught using past and current case studies.
Prerequisites: DAST2998

FASD1402 - The Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Learner in the Classroom (3 Credits, 45 hours)

This course examines instructional and behavior support techniques that are used in classrooms where students may have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.  It focuses on assessment, and individual program planning and the role of the educational assistant and teacher in the team. 
Prerequisites: FASD1301

Admission Requirements

Academic Requirements

  • Credit in English 30-1 or 65% in English 30-2 or equivalent


  • Successful completion of the General Educational Development test (GED) test with a minimum score in the following sections:
    • Writing Skills: 520 minimum standard score
    • Interpreting Literature and Art: 520 minimum standard score


  • Satisfactory results on the BVC Admissions Test

Pre-Practicum Requirement

  • A current Police Information Check (PIC) with a Vulnerable Sector Search (VSS) must be submitted prior to practicum placements.  The existence of a criminal record may postpone or prevent clinical, practicum, or field work placements and, subsequently, successful completion of the program

English Language Proficiency Requirements