Understanding Disability Through Media

Home/ Understanding Disability Through Media
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSUS1EL9054

Semester and Year Offered: 6th Semster Winter

Course Coordinator and Team: Anita Ghai

Email of course coordinator: anitaghai[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: None

Aim: : In this course, we will study the representation of disabled lives in popular media particularly cinema to: relate to the experiential worlds of people with a range of disabilities, critically evaluate the stereotypes in these representations in cinema, and think about the themes critical to disability studies through films., Share poems, liertature about selfhood of persons with disabilities The engagement with the media and the personal responses evoked to these representations and the reading of a few key texts will provide students with the insights required to rethink disability.

Course Outcomes:

  1. Critically appraise dominant constructions of disability in cinema and other popular narratives and challenge those that undermine disabled people’s rights, quality and inclusiveness in society
  2. Students will express capability in deconstructing the bio- psychosocial implications of disability
  3. Students will gain knowledge and understanding about disability history, rights, policies, and contemporary issues, especially in terms access, agency, advocacy, and voices
  4. Students will demonstrate improved skills in working with people with disabilities, and increased ability to understand individual and care and family concerns.
  5. Students will have a broader awareness of the representations , and increased understanding of lived realities of people with disabilities

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

  1. The initial interaction will introduce the postgraduates of education to understand the discourse of Disability Studies. It will be taught through cinema. Disability has been visible in cinema but has not been registered as human predicament in education. An attempt shall be made to study the portrayal of characters with disabilities, the importance of contexts in the construction of disability, disability and relationships, concerns of embodiment and several other issues arising out of the intersection of Disability Studies and media.
  2. This module explores various aspects of the lived realities of children with disabilities in India. The themes covered include identity, self-concept and disability, children with disabilities and their families, education and health of children with disabilities, representations of children with disabilities in and films and others. The aims of the module are to study how disability features in childhood studies and explores the intersection of class, caste and gender along with disability in affecting childhood
  3. The family is the primary institution of care and support for people with disabilities in India. One of the major issues that a study of the family reveals is an understanding of the ethics of care from the perspective of the receiver of care and their rights. It also opens avenues to discuss commmoduley and institutionalized care versus the family as the site of care. Disability raises questions about the meaning and purpose of parenthood, the construction of motherhood in the context of disability, the status of people with disabilities within their families, the role of the extended family, the ethics of care and rights to parenthood and family of people
  4. The education of children with disabilities is a major objective of the goal of “Education for All.” The module shall explore seminal debates about special education versus inclusive education and the shifts in these debates in response to changing models of disability as well as disability in higher education in India. Issues of access and equity, teacher training, curriculum development, pedagogical approaches, assessments and a universal design of learning shall be some of the major issues explored in this module. Social and cultural studies in education shall also be a part of the module.
  5. This module explores the construction of intimacy and sexuality in the context of people with disabilities in India as well as relations of intimacy and the institution of marriage within the context of disability. An attempt is made to study how ability intersects with normative heterosexuality to restrict the possibilities of constructing sexual identities of people with disabilities and the ways in which people with disabilities adapt to or subvert dominant discourses of sexuality.
  6. This module shall explore the legal and cultural debates on euthanasia in India as well as transnationally. Studies on euthanasia open up debates about the notion of a life that is considered worth living and the manner in which this notion is defined by discourses from various fields including medicine, culture, law, politics, economics and others. This module also aims to examine how a study of euthanasia enables an understanding of how human vulnerability and dependence are pathologized in contemporary society and in doing so, draws parallels between ageing, disability, illness and other conditions that violate the norm of the able body and hence undermine the right to life for people affected by these conditions.

Assessment Details with weights:

  • Movie Review 30%
  • Class test 20 %
  • Class particpation 20%
  • Final presentation 40 % (With External Examiner )

Reading List:

  • Bhattacharya, T. (2010) ‘Re-examining Issues of Inclusion in Education’, Economic and Political Weekly. 14(16). pp.18 – 25.
  • Dalal, A. and Pande, N. (1999). ‘Cultural Beliefs and Family Care of the Children with Disability’. Psychology and Developing Societies, 11(1). pp. 55 – 75.
  • Ghai, A. (2001). ‘Marginalization and disability: Experiences from the third world’. In Priestley, M. (ed.) Disability and the Life Course: Global Perspectives. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 26 – 37.
  • Ghai, A. (2002). ‘Disabled women: An excluded agenda of Indian feminism’. Hypatia, 17(3). pp. 49 – 66.
  • Ghai, A. (2006). ‘Education in a Globalising Era: Implications for Disabled Girls’. Social Change, 36(3). pp. 161 – 76.
  • Ghai, A. (2015). ‘Chapter 4: At the Periphery: Marginalized Disabled Lives’. In Rethinking Disability in India. New Delhi: Routledge. pp. 101 – 165.
  • Ghai, A. (2015). Chapter 5: Mystifying Realities: Right to Life. In Rethinking Disability in India. New Delhi: Routledge. pp. 166 – 200.
  • Goffman, E. (2009). Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity. New York: Simon and Schuster
  • Gupta, A., and Singal, N. (2004). ‘Positive perceptions in parents of children with disabilities’.
  • Asia Pacific Disability Rehabilitation Journal, 15(1). pp. 22 – 35
  • Haller, B. (1995). Rethinking models of media representations of disability. Disability
  • Studies Quarterly, 15(2). pp. 26 – 30.
  • Hussain, Y., Atkin, K., & Ahman, W. (2002). South Asian disabled young people and their
  • families. Bristol, UK: Policy Press, Joseph Rowntree Association
  • Linton, S. (1998). Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity. New York: NYU Press.
  • Malik, R. (2014). Sexuality and disability in India. Retrieved from
  • Mehrotra, N. (2004). ‘Women, disability and social support in rural Haryana’. Economic and
  • Political Weekly, 39(52). pp. 5640 – 5644.
  • Rao, S. (2001). ‘A little inconvenience: Perspectives of Bengali families of children with disabilities on labelling and inclusion. Disability & Society. 16(4). pp. 531–48.
  • Singh, K., and Gan, G. L. (1996). An Asian perspective on euthanasia. The Australian Quarterly,
  • 68(3). pp. 36 – 47.
  • Tarshi. (2010). Sexuality and disability in the Indian context. Working paper. Retrieved from
  • Last accessed on March 16th 2017
  • Vaidya, S. (2015). Sex and sexuality. The Tribune. Retrieved from:
  • Last accessed on March 16th 2017.
  • Wolbring G and Ghai Anita (2015) Interrogating the impact of scientific and technological development on disabled children in India and beyond. Disability and the Global South 2(2). pp. 667 – 85. Accessed from Last accessed on 16th March 2017