Credit points


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Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit is one of a series that provides students with knowledge about the aetiology of a range of impairments and conditions. This unit complements learning from the unit EDAC224 Understanding Behaviours and Disability. The knowledge gained in this unit will be further built on in the unit EDAC251 Ethical Considerations for Diversity.

This unit contributes to the overall course outcome having the necessary skills and practices to support successful inclusion by developing students' knowledge about specific disabilities and condition. Whilst the rejection of the medical model has allowed people living with disability to see themselves as valid individuals, worthy of respect, rather than faulty humans, it has also led to a failure of understanding of the nature of bodily difference and an abrogation of responsibility for necessary support for health and medical needs. This unit is designed to provide students with an understanding of the aetiology and features of specific disabilities. Physical, intellectual, psychiatric and acquired disabilities will be examined. Health and medical issues common to specific disorders will be discussed. Mental illness will be examined in detail, with particular attention to description, aetiology, and the presentation of mental illness in people with intellectual disability.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe the causes of disability (GA1, GA2, GA8)

LO2 - Describe the features of specific disability types (GA1, GA2, GA8)

LO3 - Describe major psychiatric disorders (GA1, GA2, GA8)

LO4 - Source and critically evaluate information regarding disability types (GA7, GA8).

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics will include: 

  • Brain function 
  • Causes of disability and classifications of disability 
  • Physical disabilities 
  • Intellectual disabilities 
  • Acquired disability and ageing 
  • Psychiatric disability

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

150 hours in total with a normal expectation of 36 hours of directed study and the total contact hours should not exceed 36 hours. Directed study might include lectures, tutorials, webinars, podcasts etc. The balance of the hours then becomes private study.

The teaching and learning organisation may take a number of forms, depending on specific course/subject requirements at the time of delivery, this may include a combination of face to face and/or online learning delivered on a weekly or intensive schedule. Tutorials and/or synchronous learning will enable students to participate in cooperative and supportive learning opportunities. All learning modes will be delivered and/or supported by a range of resources and activities on ACU’s technology learning platform (LEO).

Assessment strategy and rationale

The objective of the assessments in this unit is to develop students’ knowledge of aetiology of impairments and conditions in order to build the necessary skills and practices to support successful inclusion. Assessment one requires students to locate, organise and analyse information and readings to complete a written description of a specific impairment (LO1, 2). The second assessment requires students to complete a quiz which will demonstrate their understanding of specific disabilities and psychiatric disorders including the classifications of disability (LO2, 3). The final assessment is a report on a disability type, its aetiology and features. This report calls for students to source and critically evaluate information regarding a disability type with emphasis on the skills and practices required to ensure a detailed understanding of the description, aetiology and mental illness in people with intellectual disabilities (LO4).

These assessments provide students to engage in a variety of assessment styles to develop students’ knowledge of impairments. This provides students a better understanding of their responsibility of the greater good and dignity of each individual by ensuring their mental health and wellbeing is identified.

Assessment Tasks 

The assessment tasks and their weighting for this unit are designed to demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome. In order to pass this unit, students are required to submit and participate in all assessment tasks.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

1,500 words

Students will complete a written description of specific impairments


LO1, LO2


Assessment Task 2

500 words

Students will complete a short answer quiz


LO2, LO3


Assessment Task 3

2,000 words

Students will prepare a report on a disability type, its aetiology and features



GA1, GA2, GA7, GA8

Representative texts and references

Batshaw, M.L., Roizen, N.L., & Lotrecchiano, G.R. (Eds.) (2013). Children with Disabilities (7th ed.)Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing. 

Burack, J.A. (2012). The Oxford handbook of intellectual disability and development (2nd ed.)New York; Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Cieza, A., & Bickenbach, J.E., (2015) Functioning, Disability and Health, International Classification of. In Smelser, N.J., Baltes, P.B. (Eds) The International Encyclopaedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Elsevier.

Heller K. W., Forney P. E., Alberto P. A., Best S. J., & Schwartzman M. N. (2009). Understanding Physical, Health and Multiple Disabilities (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Merrill.

Kandel, E.R., Schwartz, J.H., Jessell, T.M., Siegelbaum, S., & Hudspeth, A.J. (Eds.) (2013). Principles of neural science (5th ed.)New York: McGraw-Hill Medical. 

Kolb, B. (2014). Brain and behavior. New York: Worth Publishers.

Smart, J. (2012). Disability across the developmental lifespan: For the rehabilitation counselor. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Shogren, K.A. (2013). Applicable of positive psychology constraints to disability. In M.L. Wehmeryer (Ed). The Oxford handbook of positive psychology and disability. New York: Oxford University Press.

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