CCHU9010 Humanities
Being Different: Understanding People with Disabilities

[This course is under the thematic cluster of ‘Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth’.]


Course Description

This course focuses on disability as a social phenomenon and social construct. It engages students to look into the everyday life situations people with disabilities (PWDs) commonly encounter, particularly people with physical and intellectual disabilities as well as mental illnesses (PD, ID and MI). Issues that arise from these situations will be examined through the critical lens of sociology, politics, culture and social policies. Stereotypical images of PWDs, myths and erroneous assumptions about them, and the basis of discrimination against them are major aspects students will reflect upon. They will explore how these attitudes have been shaped by the media, cultural representations, knowledge from medical and social sciences and further obtain an empathetic understanding of PWDs through class activities and direct contact in NGOs or self-help organizations.

By the end of the course, students should be able to appreciate the value of social inclusion and human diversities. They should have been equipped to critically identify necessary amendment to be made in related social policies and service provisions and to take individual and collective actions in their future positions for building an inclusive society.

[There will be a compulsory agency visit scheduled during Reading Week.]

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Explain disability issues through a critical analysis of its definitions, moving away from the purely medical model to a human rights perspective and the social model of disabilities.
  2. Identify the social, political, biological and cultural determinants of social exclusion in disabilities.
  3. Demonstrate understanding of the experiences of persons with disabilities and reflect on the personal values and societal issues of social inclusion.
  4. Express an understanding of the family issues, educational concerns, and psychosocial aspects of the disability experience.
  5. Critically examine the basis of discrimination and necessary changes for social inclusion of human diversities.
  6. Critically examine the related social policies and service provisions and identify the changes necessary to build up a barrier-free society.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

Second semester (Wed)


Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 8
Fieldwork / Visits (incl preparation) 8
Reading / Self-study 40
Assessment: Essay / Proposal writing 40
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 40
Total: 160

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Tutorial participation, discussion, presentations 40
Proposal writing 30
In-class assessments 30

Required Reading

  • Chan, C. W. (2008). Overview of specific learning disabilities (SLD)/Dyslexia development over the last decade in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Journal of Paediatrics (New series), 13, 196-202.
  • Hong Kong Hospital Authority. (2011). A mental health service plan for adults in Hong Kong 2010-2015. Executive Summary. [pp. 5-9]
  • Oliver, M. (2009). Understanding disability: From theory to practice (2nd ed.). UK: Palgrave Macmillan. [Chaps. 3, 10]
  • Rehabilitation Programme Plan Review Working Group. (2007). Hong Kong Rehabilitation Programme Plan. Hong Kong: The Government Printer. [Executive summary and Chap. 2] From http://www.lwb.gov.hk/eng/advisory/rac/rpp_report.htm
  • Rusch, N., Angermeyer, M. C., & Corrigan, P. W. (2005). Mental illness stigma: Concepts, consequences, and initiatives to reduce stigma. European Psychiatry, 20(8), 529-539.
  • Sherry, M. (2008). Disability and diversity: A sociological perspective. New York: Nova Science Publishers. [Chap. 1]
  • Yip, K. (2003). Traditional Chinese religious beliefs and superstitions in delusions and hallucinations of Chinese schizophrenic patients. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 49(2), 97-111.

Recommended Reading / Resources

A: On Disabilities

  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). U.S.: APA.
  • Buntinx, W. H. E., & Schalock, R. L. (2010). Models of disability, quality of life, and individualized supports: Implications for professional practice in intellectual disability. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, 7(4), 283-294.
  • Hong Kong 2010 Joint World Conference. (2010). Towards a “local agenda for social work and social development for the next decade” − Invitation for response on Disability. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Council of Social Service.
  • Lauber, C., & Rössler, W. (2007). Stigma towards people with mental illness in developing countries in Asia. International Review of Psychiatry, 19(2), 157-178.
  • Oliver, M. (2009). Understanding disability: From theory to practice (2nd ed.). UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Sau Po Centre on Ageing, HKU. (2013). Report of the Task Group on Ageing of Users of Rehabilitation Services of Social Welfare Department. HK: HKU Sau Po Centre on Ageing. From http://www.swd.gov.hk/doc/rehab/Report%20of%20the%20Task%20Group%20on%20Ageing%20of%20Users%20of%20Rehabilitation%20Services_Eng.pdf
  • Wong, P. K. S., & Wong, D. F. K. (2007). Disability. In Envisioning social welfare: Our shared future (pp. 96-110). Hong Kong: Consultancy Team, Department of Social Work and Social Administration, HKU.

B: On PD

C: On ID and SPLD

  • Leung, C., Tsang, S. K. M., & Heung, K. (2009). Evaluation of the effectiveness of the Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) in treating families with children with behavior problems in Hong Kong. Research on Social Work Practice, 19, 304-313.
  • Nicolson, R. I. (2002). The dyslexia ecosystem. Dyslexia, 8(2), 55-66.
  • Tsang, S. K. M., & Leung, C. (2006). Positive psychology and enhancement of home-school support for students with dyslexia: An evaluative study. International Journal on Learning, 12, 245-254.
  • Wehmeyer, M. L., Sands, D. J., Knowlton, H. E., & Kozleski, E. B. (2002). Person-centred planning. In M. L. Wehmeyer et al. (Eds.), Teaching students with mental retardation: Providing access to the general curriculum. Baltimore: P.H. Brookes.
  • Wong, P. K. S., & Wong, D. F. K. (2008). Enhancing staff attitude, knowledge and skills in supporting self-determination of adults with intellectual disability in residential settings − A pretest-posttest comparison group design. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research 52, 230-243.

D: On MI

  • Chu, C. (2008). My personal journey: Schizophrenia. Hong Kong Journal of Psychiatry, 18, 39-40. Hong Kong: Hong Kong College of Psychiatrists.
  • Collins, P., et al. (2011). Grand challenges in global mental health., Nature, 475, 27-30.
  • Hooley, J. M. (2010). Social factors in Schizophrenia. Psychological Science, 19, 238-242.
  • Hung, S. F. (2010). Child psychiatry in Hong Kong. East Asian Archive of Psychiatry (Supplement), 20(4), 7-8.
  • Rosenhan, D. L. (1973). On being sane in insane places. Science, 179(4070), 250-258.
  • Wong, P. W. C., Liu, P. M. Y., Chan, W. S. C., Law, Y. W., Law, S. C. K, Fu, K. –W., Yip, S. F. (2009). An integrative suicide prevention program for visitor charcoal burning suicide and suicide pact. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 39, 82-90.

Recommended Websites


Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr S.K.M. Tsang
Department of Social Work and Social Administration, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 1090
Email: sandratsang@hku.hk
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr S.K.M. Tsang
Department of Social Work and Social Administration, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 1090
Email: sandratsang@hku.hk