The Disability Studies Unit (DSU) was established in 1995 under a collaborative agreement between the University of Kelaniya (UoK) and the University of Uppsala, Sweden and with the cooperation of the World Health Organisation, Save the Children, Sweden and the Swedish Handicap Institute. Its broad objective was to promote Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) through education, research and information dissemination both internationally and locally. Since this time the purview of the DSU has expanded dramatically beyond the narrow focus on CBR toward Speech and Language Therapy (SLT), starting with a 2-year external diploma programme in SLT, with a subsequent 2-year top-up upgrade to degree certification. In 2007, the DSU was upgraded to a fully-fledged Department of Disability Studies (DDS), offering a 4-year internal BSc in Speech and Hearing Science, specializing in SLT or Audiology.
The Department of Disability Studies ran a Multidisciplinary Clinic at the Faculty premises providing multi- disciplinary clinical services for children with disabilities and their families up until 2015. This clinic provided services for more than 1500 children and their families and at that time, the space was the biggest challenge to provide these services. As a result, The Department of Disability Studies Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya and the Hemas Outreach Foundation came together to establish a centre of excellence in child disability services at the Faculty of Medicine premises in Ragama.