Assoc Prof Judith McKenzie

Associate Professor



B Sc Logopaedics (Speech and Hearing therapy) (UCT)

BA in African Languages and Linguistics (UCT)

MA in Linguistics (University of York – UK)

PGCE in intermediate phase (UNISA)

PhD in Humanities (Rhodes University)

Expertise and Teaching Area

A/Prof. McKenzie is a lecturer in the Disability Studies Programme and convenes the MPhil in Disability Studies. She is also responsible for supervision of masters and PhD students and has an active research programme focusing largely on inclusive education, universal design for learning, disability studies in education and intellectual disability and family life. 


A/Prof McKenzie has worked in the disability field since 1980, when she graduated from the University of Cape Town with a degree in speech and hearing therapy. In 1988 she was employed at a rural hospital in South Africa, Tintswalo Hospital, to establish a speech and hearing therapy department in a multidisciplinary rehabilitation unit.

She engaged in community based and interdisciplinary efforts to address disability, exclusion and poverty in the Bushbuckridge area of Mpumalanga. In 1995 she was selected as a fellow on the Kellogg International Leadership Programme, and she benefited from international experience on inclusive education.

In December 2009 she was awarded the UNESCO/Emir Jaber al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah Prize for promoting quality education for persons with intellectual disability. Her main areas of interest are inclusive education, particularly as regards policy development and teacher education.

She is currently employed as an associate professor in the Division of Disability Studies within the Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Cape Town. She has published research in the following areas: Housing and support options for adults with intellectual disability, educational provision for children with severe and profound intellectual disability, education of children with intellectual disability and sexuality and disability. More recently she was principal investigator on the Teacher Empowerment for Disability Inclusion (TEDI) project in which face to face courses and massive online open courses for teacher professional development in inclsuve education were developed and researched. As director of the IDEA unit she has carried out projects in universal design for learning and overseen research into community based inclusive development.

In 2015 she was selected to participate in the first engaged scholarship programme run at UCT. The aim of participation was to develop theory and practice around scholarship that addresses current social issues through collaboration with community participants. This programme fitted very well with her personal aims which are to explore disability theory and practice through research in such a way that this research can contribute to improved quality of life and human rights for people with disabilities and their families.  Further the exploration of disability as an element of human diversity has the potential to enhance our understanding of theories and practices of transformation. She retains her interest in poverty, inequity and social inclusion of disabled people. Her work on housing and support and with severe and profound intellectual disability has highlighted the need to understand disability from a family support perspective as positive outcomes for persons with ID are inextricably tied in with the support that their family receives for the care and development of their relative with a disability.

She is a strong advocate for disability rights and places a focus on people with intellectual disability.