Innovative Practice 2020 on Inclusive Education and ICT

Postgraduate studies in disability law and policy

Syracuse University, based in the US state of New York, established the Disability Law and Policy Program (DLPP) at its College of Law in order to recruit more students – with and without disabilities – to specialize in disability law. The courses at the College of Law include (US) Disability Law, International Human Rights, and Comparative Disability Law, among others. DLPP students may also work as interns during the summer or full-time for a semester at disability law-related offices.

“The DLPP has enriched my personal life and my career in disability rights.”

About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Disability Law and Policy Program (DLPP)
Organisation:Syracuse University
of Implementation
United States/ Syracuse Uni/NY State
Start Year2005


  • In 2019, there are 70 law students with and without disabilities.
  • Of the 268 students enrolled between 2016 and 2019, 38 received a Certificate in Disability Studies and 17 also received the Curricular Program certificate.


There are few opportunities for students with disabilities to attend law school in the United States, and disability law is not often considered an established field of law.


The DLPP recruits students with and without disabilities from the United States and abroad, offering them the opportunity to specialize in the field of international and domestic disability law through coursework, curricular and extracurricular activities, and internships.

Students have the option of pursuing a J.D. (Juris Doctor, a post-graduate law degree), a LL.M (Master in Laws) and a joint degree J.D./M.S. (Master’s degree) in Law and Disability Studies, as well as a curricular programme in Disability Law and Policy, and to seek admission to practice law in the U.S.

A range of accessibility features such as captioning, sign language, text-to-speech software, etc. facilitates inclusion of students with various disabilities. Through courses and externships, students gain experience representing clients and engaging in advocacy for policies, practices, and procedures that benefit persons with disabilities.

Starting in 2005 with just two students from the United States, the DLPP has since then enrolled more than 600 students from 15 countries.

Two men and one woman smile during their break in the classroom.

Through courses and externships, students gain experience representing clients and engaging in advocacy work that benefits persons with disabilities.


The primary source of funding is student tuition, as well as grants and alumni donations. Many students are scholarship recipients or participants in a Fellowship Program developed with the Open Society Foundation as a funding partner.

The DLPP is an easily replicable model, as any law school can take steps to include disability law in their curriculum and to increase enrolment of students with disabilities. The DLPP faculty plans to increase the enrolment of students with disabilities, expand the programme offerings to include more internships, and offer more opportunities to study abroad.

In addition, the DLPP is seeking approval to begin a S.J.D. programme (Doctor of Juridical Science, equivalent to a PhD in law) to increase the number of law professors with disabilities and with expertise in disability law both in the United States and internationally.



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