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.

To enroll in the graduate certificate program, students must be admitted to Gallaudet University as graduate or professional students and maintain a GPA of 3.0.

To satisfy the requirements for the graduate certificate, students are expected to earn a grade of “B” or above in all courses, and to maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above.

All certificate program/undergraduate minor students will pay a fee of $1000 to cover travel, room, and board for the Summer Institute, coordinated by Education Abroad in a country where disaster planning activities are taking place.

Admissions Requirements

Undergraduate students interested in pursuing a minor track in Disaster and Emergency Planning within their undergraduate Public Health, Social Work or other undergraduate degree program, must demonstrate evidence of:

  • Current enrollment in a Gallaudet undergraduate program.
  • Cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.8 or above
  • Complete 18 credits of prerequisite courses from the list below and earn a “C” or better:
    • BIO-105 Human Biology
    • BIO-241 Ecology
    • PHI-450 Bioethics and the Deaf Community
    • PHS-202 Foundations of Environmental Health
    • PHS-203 Introduction to Personal and Community Health
    • PHS-204 Foundations in Global Health
    • SWK-203 Introduction to Social Work
    • SWK-304 Social Welfare Policy
    • SWK-307 Human Behavior and the Social Environment in Micro
    • SWK-308 Human Behavior and the Social Environment in Macro
    • SWK-318 Human Diversity
    • SWK-337 Case Management

Undergraduate students are encouraged to meet with their academic advisor in their home program and the IDMA program director as early as possible to determine eligibility for the minor track.

To declare the DEP minor, interested students should:

  • Contact their Academic & Career Success Advisor (for undeclared students) or their Faculty Advisor (for declared students) and confirm readiness to declare the minor.
  • Contact the DEP program at to discuss the minor track application process, which includes the following:
    • A one-page written essay and a video in ASL responding to admission questions indicating the reason for your interest in pursuing a minor focused on Deaf leadership in Disaster Risk Reduction & Emergency Planning.
    • Copy of unofficial transcript.
    • One letter of recommendation.
    • Interview with DEP faculty.
    • Demonstrated proficiency in American Sign Language and English (via personal statement, ASL video, and interview).

Technology requirements and Computer Requirements/skills: A Mac or PC computer with access to the internet capable of running a most recent and updated web browser is necessary for participation in our online courses. The minimum operating system is Windows XP or higher for PC and MacOS 10.5 or higher for Mac. See Online Computer Requirements for more detailed information. Students are responsible for obtaining their own Internet access and are expected to have basic computer and internet literacy prior to the start of the course, including use of email, word processing programs, presentation programs (such as PowerPoint), and the internet to search.

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

Choose one of the following:

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
Choose one of the following:

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

Associate Professor

Caroline Solomon

Dean, Faculty

Hayley Stokar

Assistant Professor

Kota Takayama

Associate Professor

Maegan Shanks


Emily Shaw


Geoffrey Whitebread

Assistant Professor

Get the Details

Fill out our inquiry form for an Admissions Counselor to contact you.

Inquiry Form

Apply Today

Create an account to start Your Applications.

Create an Account

Contact the Admissions Office?

Undergraduate Admissions

Contact Us

Minor in Disability Inclusive DRR & Emergency Planning

9:00 am-5:00 pm
9:00 am-5:00 pm
9:00 am-5:00 pm
9:00 am-5:00 pm
9:00 am-5:00 pm

Select what best describes your relationship to Gallaudet University so we can efficiently route your email.
By submitting this form, I opt in to receive select information and deaf resources from Gallaudet University via email.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.