International School of Disability Studies (ISDS) is a centre for learning in Nigeria that provides academic training and research opportunities for people interested in disabilities including but not limited to intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and mental health conditions. ISDS was founded in 2014 by Dr Precious Nonye Sango to act as a research and learning centre for students, researchers, policy makers, health and social care professionals and anyone interested in disabilities. ISDS is currently working to set up a Library in Abuja which will hold the most extensive collection of books, journals and resources on disabilities and related disciplines such as Psychology, Sociology and Research Methods in Nigeria. The School’s faculty and consultants deliver world class teaching, supervision and research to its workshop participants and project clients.

The Context

Nigerian Paralympian Flora Ugwunwa set another world record, winning gold at the Rio Paralympics.

Disability in Nigeria

Nigeria is estimated to have a population of over 180 million. Whilst no reliable official statistics of the number of people with intellectual disabilities (ID) in Nigeria exist, estimates by the 2011 World Report on Disability, suggest that approximately 25 million Nigerians have a disability. 3.5 million of these have significant difficulties in social and physical functioning. These disabilities include physical, intellectual and developmental conditions. According to the American Psychiatric Association people with intellectual disabilities (ID) have cognitive impairment such as an IQ of less than 70, and/or significant impairments in adaptive behaviour. Such conditions are diagnosed before age 18. 

The Challenges

Visible but invisible

Despite the large number of people with disabilities in Nigeria, little support is given to individuals living with disabilities. These individuals are often excluded from social, economic and political affairs in society. The most common avenue of social aid for people with disabilities is usually through families, non-governmental organisations and religious communities. Although charities and families take on the responsibility for the social support of people with ID, these support systems are limited or non-existent due to the stigma attached to disability within the society. Individuals with ID are often seen as a disgrace to their families by neighbours and relatives. As a result people with disabilities are subject to neglect and isolation. In extreme cases, these individuals are abandoned to become homeless, living on the streets and begging or family members keep them indoors away from public view.

James (not real name) attends a school in Northern Nigeria that has no books, computers or trained staff to help with his Special Educational Needs.

The Solutions

Delegates including policy makers, international academics and health care professionals convene at the first International Confrence on Disabilities in Africa, hosted in Abuja by ISDS

Focus on research and training at ISDS

Although a few non-governmental organisations are working to care for PWDs, there needs to be more programmes to raise awareness about the causes, symptoms and care of learning and physical disabilities in order to improve the attitudes of people towards the disabled in Nigeria and Africa. As such, the International School of Disability Studies was established as the first specialized institution in Nigeria for learning disability research, teaching and learning. By delivering quality education and training to anyone interested in disabilities including but not limited to IDD (students, academics, researchers, families of people with disabilities, carers, health workers and service providers), we aim to improve care standards and public attitudes towards people with disabilities, reducing stigma and enhancing their quality of life. You are welcome to study or partner with ISDS.


ISDS faculty and associate members deliver training workshops, conferences and research supervision to organisations, students, carers, health care professionals and social workers in order to improve the quality of care and treatment available to people with disabilities including but not limited to intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental illness in Nigeria.

Dr Precious Nonye Sango

Senior Lecturer in Applied Social Studies

BSc, MA, PhD, PGCHE, Senior Fellow (HEA), ADOS-2 & ADI-R Certified

School Director

Prof Rachel Forrester-Jones

Professor of Social Policy


Faculty Consultant

Mrs Eziafakaku Nwokolo

Board Certified Behaviour Analyst

BCBA, ADOS-2 & ADI-R Certified, MSc

Faculty Consultant

Dr Chidiebere Uwadoka MD

Consultant Psychiatrists

MSc, MSc, MD

Faculty Consultant

Mr Roy Deveau

Care Management Consultant


Faculty Consultant

Ms Julia Biermann

Lecturer in Disability Studies

Dipl.-Soz., Dipl.-Päd.

Faculty Consultant