The Disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction & Emergency Planning Program (DEP) is an 18-credit graduate certificate and undergraduate minor program that trains professionals to work in the growing fields of disaster and emergency management.

As the world’s first and only university-level program of its kind, the DEP Program combines course-based, hands-on, and site-based components that serve as an incubator for innovation in a wide range of activities, including; Deaf centered risk assessment of physical structures and human rights/DEIA, policy recommendations, effective emergency communication, community participatory Disaster Risk Reduction training, and research, among other skill sets.

The DEP program is taught by an interdisciplinary faculty from the graduate programs in International Development, Interpreting & Translation, Public Administration, and Social Work, and faculty from the School of Science, Technology, Accessibility, Mathematics, and Public Health. DEP faculty developed the DEP Program as a response to real-world conditions, and from insights generated from their areas of research and practice. Key insights include: i. extreme weather and climate change events are increasing in frequency and severity; ii. Deaf, DeafBlind, Hard of Hearing, Deaf-plus, and people with disabilities tend to be marginalized from disaster and emergency communication, information, training, and professional work worldwide; iii. Deaf communities possess cultural and linguistic knowledge and skills necessary to improving disaster risk reduction and emergency management at local, national, regional, and international levels.

The program consists of six courses, culminating with a Summer Institute conducted with Deaf-Led organizations, emergency management, and/or research partners in a disaster impacted site in the US or another country where disaster planning activities are taking place.

  Summer I
Summer II


DEP-601 Foundations Course

IDP-775 Project Design & Implementation for Social Change

IDP-774 Program Development, Monitoring & Evaluation for Social Change

DEP-602 Summer Institute

Choice of one course in Fall and Spring semester


MPA-795 Social Equity in Public Administration

PHS-202/595 Foundations of Environmental Health

SWK-713-OL Issues in Human Behavior & the Social Environment

DAS-532 Geographic Information Systems

PHS-301/595 Behavioral Health Interventions

SWK-795/495 Trauma & Resiliency with Deaf Communities

SWK-715-OL2 Disability Policy: Implications for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Populations


Courses & Requirements

Summary of Requirements

Summer I

Climate change and humanitarian disasters are becoming more frequent and more severe, demanding specialists prepared to engage in disaster risk reduction and emergency planning-related advocacy, capacity-building, research, and training across a range of fields and service sectors. 15% of the world population or 1 billion people is comprised of people with disabilities, and 70 million people are Deaf, DeafBlind, Hard of Hearing, or Deaf-plus. This course introduces students to Disability inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DiDRR) frameworks, core areas of practice in Deaf-centered DiDRR, and key concepts, international policies and guidelines, assessment tools, and DiDRR entities and networks. The course includes field visits with disaster and emergency services organizations, and provides opportunities for hand-on practice within each core practice area.
Credits: 3

Students must declare their minor and be admitted to the minor track in order to participate in the course.

Distribution: Hybrid, Minor, Undergraduate

Fall I

IDP 775 introduces students to the design, planning, and implementation of community development projects with Deaf, DeafBlind, Hard of Hearing people, signed language communities, and people with disabilities with a focus on disaster and humanitarian contexts. Theoretical frameworks address the nature of social change in societies around the world, the interrelationship between inequitable social conditions and efforts such conditions, and the value of local constituencies’ involvement in shaping change. Students will develop essential skills for designing projects, as well as training in collaborative team-building and facilitation of projects that are sensitive to local communities’ viewpoints, social interests, and leadership in local and international development networks.

Credits: 3

Current enrollment in the International Development Masters of Arts Program; or permission of instructor

Distribution: Graduate, Masters
Social Equity in Public Administration
Foundations of Environmental Health

This concentration course, taken in the second year, focuses on human behavior and the social environment of deaf and hard of hearing populations. The course looks at the complex interplay of psychosocial, system, and ecological forces in the life cycle development of individuals who experience deafness. The course explores forces of oppression and political and economic influences that impact the behavior, adaptation, and functioning of deaf and hard of hearing people.

Credits: 3

SWK 705 and SWK 706

Distribution: Graduate, Masters

Spring I

This course focuses on collaborative formulation, development and evaluation of programs working with Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing people and people with disabilities in disaster and humanitarian contexts. Exploring current philosophical, theoretical, and methodological stances related to collaborative program development, course activities demonstrate the salience of international human rights frameworks for sign language-centered leadership and disability rights, and connect these to bi- and multilateral organizational and funding channels now undergoing enhancement as a result of the United Nations introduction of the Sustainable Development Goals. Using the latter as a foundation to identifying socioeconomic problems and barriers to self-determination, participation, and equity, students will design program proposals in response to an actual Request for Proposal (RFP). Work on peer teams, students will then submit an Evaluation Plan for an actual program. In addition to cultivating program development and evaluation skills, course activities provide students with opportunities to practice program management skills and grant-writing experience.

Credits: 3

Permission of the instructor

Distribution: Graduate, Online, Masters

The course introduces students to ArcGIS Online, an online Geographic Information System (GIS) application from Esri. With GIS, the student can explore, visualize, and analyze data; create 2D maps and 3D scenes with several layers of data to visualize multiple data sets at once; and share work to an online portal. GIS analytics tools are used in many disciplines and fields of practice including public health, history, sociology, political science, business, biology, international development, and information technology. In the end of the course, students will have the opportunity to take additional training on GIS applications in their specific field of interest.

Credits: 3

MAT 101, 102, 125, or MAT 130; or permission of instructor. This section is designed for undergraduate students.

Distribution: Minor, Undergraduate
Behavioral Health Interventions
Trauma and Resiliency with Deaf Communities

This course presents specialized content about social welfare policies affecting deaf and hard of hearing people and people with disabilities. These policies are discussed within the framework of analysis and evaluation to determine future directions for policy. The impact of the service delivery, funding, and organizational systems on the implementation of policy will be considered. The course will look at policies for people who are deaf-blind, developmentally disabled, and chronically mentally ill.

Credits: 3

SWK 711.

Distribution: Graduate, Masters

Summer II

Climate change-related and humanitarian disasters are becoming more frequent and more severe, increasing the demand for specialists prepared to conduct research, training, and leadership across a range of fields and service sectors. This course is taught by an interdisciplinary faculty team, together with field-based deaf community and scientific organizational partners, to immerse students in settings where deaf community partners are committed to establishing Disability inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Planning resources, mechanisms, and networks. The Summer Institute places heavy emphasis on practical skill-building and communication with collaborative partners in such activities as community-led situational analysis and capacity-building, DiDRR advocacy, and coalition-building with key disaster/emergency, science, and governmental entities. Fieldwork sites will be determined each year, depending on level of community interest, disaster impact, and safety of the sites under consideration, including international or domestic locations.
Credits: 3

Be admitted to the minor track, complete all other required and elective courses within the track

Distribution: Minor, Undergraduate




Audrey Cooper

Program Director

Caroline Solomon

Dean, Faculty

Hayley Stokar

Assistant Professor

Kota Takayama

Associate Professor

Maegan Shanks


Emily Shaw


Geoffrey Whitebread

Assistant Professor


Disaster Relief and Crisis Intervention with Deaf Communities: Japanese Deaf Community

  • Author(s): Takayama, K.
  • Published: 2017
  • Journal: Journal of Social Work in Disability & Rehabilitation, 3-4: 247-260
  • DOI:

Deaf-Led Organizations and Disaster Communication in Vietnam

  • Author(s): Cooper, A., Hương Thanh Thị Bùi, Linh Tuần Nguyễn, Phục Khắc Nguyễn, Thanh Hà Thị Nguyễn, and Diễm Phương Nữ Phan
  • Published: 2021
  • Journal: International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 65
  • DOI:

Exploring Deaf Students’ Disaster Awareness and Preparedness in U.S. Higher Education

  • Author(s): Takayama, K., Craig, L., Cooper, A., & Stokar, H.
  • Published: 2022
  • Journal: International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
  • DOI:

Deaf Community and DiDRR Network in Vietnam Call for Action

  • Author(s): Nguyễn Trần Thủy Tiên, Cooper, A. & Craig, L.
  • Published: 2022
  • Journal: London School of Economics/Southeast Asia Centre [University of Sydney, Australia]

Deaf Community and DiDRR: Supporting a Twin-Track Approach

  • Author(s): Craig, L., Cooper, A., Takayama, K, & Klein, H.
  • Published: 2023
  • Journal: Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal, 18(3): 1-24

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Certificate in Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Planning

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