About Disability Law and Policy

Our Disability Law and Policy Program (DLPP) is one of the most extensive disability-related law school programs in the United States. Director and Associate Professor Katherine Macfarlane is an expert in disability law and civil rights litigation, and herself a person with disabilities.

Broaden your understanding of how disability intersects with various legal areas and prepare for a career in federal and state government offices, private firms, and public interest organizations focused on disability law, education, employment, civil rights, and international human rights.

Joint Degree

J.D./Master of Science in Cultural Foundations of Education with an Optional Certificate in Disability Studies

This joint degree program offers students the opportunity to earn a J.D. and M.S. in Education, as well as a Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) in Disability Studies, which is a New York State-approved certificate and concentration. Disability Studies applies legal, social, cultural, historical, and philosophical perspectives to the study of disability in society, and this joint degree, with its concentration in Disability Studies, was the first such degree in the nation. Joint degree students enroll in selected courses with the School of Education, which is ranked among the best education graduate schools in the country, and its Special Education and Cultural Foundations in Education Programs are consistently ranked within the top 10 nationwide. Graduates are prepared for disability law and policy jobs in federal and state government, community service agencies, advocacy organizations, school districts, and law firms specializing in disability and/or education law. Students are able to complete the J.D. and M.S. in three years.

School of Education Admissions

Clinics, Centers and Institutes

DLPP students work in the Disability Rights Clinic, take disability-related courses, and work as interns and externs in disability-related placements in cities in the US and throughout the world. DLPP students also take part in scholarship symposia and complete a disability law and policy-focused capstone research project.

Student Groups and Journals

  • Disability Law Society

All Student Groups All Student Journals

Disability Law and Policy Faculty

DLPP faculty bring expertise in areas such as international human rights, constitutional law, property law, education law, and civil rights litigation to disability law and policy-focused course offerings. DLPP also offers formal and informal support to local and national disability rights causes through amicus briefs, workshops, and trainings. Founding Director Professor Kanter assisted the United Nations in drafting its Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. DLPP students and faculty also partner with the Disability Law Society and other organizations and University departments to bring disability law and policy speakers to campus.

Workshops and Trainings

DLPP is available to support your department or organization in its efforts to better welcome and include people with disabilities through workshops and trainings. Past DLPP presentations have focused on making academic hiring practices more accessible to candidates with disabilities, strategies for promoting universal design in the classroom, and highlighting challenges facing people with disabilities in the practice of law.

DLPP Recognition

The program is also recognized internationally for its excellence, having received the Prize for Innovative Practices for its innovative disability-related academic program at the Zero Project Conference, held at the United Nations Offices in Vienna, Austria. The Zero Project is an initiative of the Essl Foundation, whose mission is to create a world without barriers, as envisioned by the United Nations CRPD. Experts across the globe peer-reviewed more than 500 Zero Project-nominated projects, which focused on the topic of inclusive education. Of the nominees, 75 innovative practices and 11 innovative policies from 54 countries were selected. The DLPP was one of only three awarded programs in the United States and the only United States-based university program.

Degree Outcomes: DLPP Alumni

Our graduates go on to jobs in the areas of disability, education, children’s rights, civil rights, employment, and international human rights law. Graduates of DLPP now work for federal and state government agencies, private law firms, domestic and international non-governmental organizations, public interest law offices, school districts, policy organizations and think tanks. Other graduates have started their own law practices or pursued LL.M. or Ph.D. degrees.

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DLPP News and Updates

See the latest commentary from our DLPP leadership on newsworthy topics related to disability law, along with program updates and information.

More from the DLPP