UT's Informal Classes, aimed at Adults with IDDS, offer semester long continued educational opportunities at the University of Texas at Austin for Adults with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities. This program aims to promote affordable life-long learning for adults with intellectual disabilities while providing an opportunity to connect socially with adult peers with and without intellectual disabilities on the University of Texas campus. Courses are offered through UT's informal classes program.

For each class, students may be dropped off by the UT Littlefield Café to socialize for 30 minutes with each other and volunteer students from UT. Students will then participate in an interactive discussion about the topic for the day in the Biomedical Engineering (BME) building across from the Littlefield Café. Here, they can follow along with handouts of class slides and bring in their homework to discuss with their peers. Lastly, students will complete simple but fun projects. Families can pick up their student by the café at the end of each class.


Registration information

All registration and payment of tuition takes place through UT - you do not need to pay the $10 DSACT Programs Registration Fee for these courses. To sign up for individual classes, click on the course descriptions below (purple hyperlinks) or visit the UT Informal Classes website at http://cie.austin.utexas.edu/informalclasses/

Full or partial scholarship are available for adults with Down syndrome via DSACT or Ruby's Rainbow.

Please address all questions to Jon-Pierce Shimomura at (512) 232-4137, jonps@austin.utexas.edu.



Course Schedule

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Course Descriptions




Fun with Rastafarian Cultures: A look into Reggae Music

Peace, love, and music. A look into the culture behind reggae music and the Jamaican and Rastafarian histories that create such unique styles. We will study the elements that make up the reggae genre, iconic music legends, and the historical background of the culture. Team building, independent and abstract thinking, and open mindedness will be taught and encouraged through class participation. No music background is required! No extra course fee.


Fun with Culture: Pop Rocks! Pop Art and Art History

Do you love art with color and a sense of humor? Have you seen or heard of Andy Warhol and want to know more about his famous soup cans? If so this class is for you! In our course, we will examine the history of pop art and explore the culture and art of the 1950’s advertising age. We will explore famous pop artists from in the U.K, Japan, Spain and U.S and more! Each week after discovering different art techniques and artists we will produce our own head turning pieces for our end of course gallery. Join up and unleash the pop artist within you! Please bring a $20 fee to the first class meeting which will be paid to the instructor to cover the cost of guest artists, food and materials.

Dinosaurs: Digging up the Past

Roar!! Stomp!! Crunch!! This class will explore the ancient Earth inhabited by Dinosaurs! We will learn about different types of dinosaurs through fossils, from UT scientists, and by visiting the Texas Memorial Museum on the UT campus that has reconstructed fossils of many prehistoric creatures. We will investigate how these ancient creatures lived and why they no longer roam the Earth. No extra course fee.

Putting Your Best Face Forward

We all have moments in our lives when we want to put our best selves forward. Occasions such as job interviews, auditions, sports try-outs, or even just meeting new friends for a fun evening out require us to be our best selves.  In this course we will use a variety of techniques to develop skills for presenting ourselves as upbeat, positive, and engaging individuals.  Students will self-select final projects which with include either an audition piece or the creation of a mock job interview of social event scenario. Students will work on social skills and physical coordination in this course, and they will create resumes.  Please bring a $20 fee to the first class paid to the instructor for guest artists and materials.





Musical Performance Appreciation – Phantom of the Opera

Do you love musicals? Do you like a good mystery? Join us as we adventure into a world of love, mystery, and magic with the Phantom of the Opera. In this class, you will learn how to enjoy seeing a musical performed on stage. You’ll learn what goes into making a musical production – everything from musical composition, acting, singing, set design, choreography, costumes, plot, and history. You will also learn how to be a great audience member by practicing with your classmates. We will study Paris in the 1880’s by learning about what they ate, how they talked, and how they dressed. We will also review the history of how the phantom was created and trace its path through today. For the special class finale, we will attend a performance of Phantom of the Opera at Bass Concert Hall! Fee for subsidized tickets to final performance is not included in price of course.

Drawn Together: The Written Art of Comic Books and Graphic Novels

Comics have come a long, long way in recent years. As an art form, graphic story telling brings together written word and visual representation as a one-two punch for telling tales about all sorts of heroes- not all of whom wear capes. Protagonists who overcome innumerable obstacles to achieve greatness ring true for so many people with disabilities who work incredibly hard to fulfill their personal quests and journeys. In this class students will look at different types of comics, the heroes they offer and will have a chance to create their own comic. This course is inclusive to all reading and writing levels. Please bring a $15 fee to the first class meeting which will be paid to the instructor to cover the cost of guest artists, food and materials.

Fun with Science: You and Your Genes

Have you ever wondered why some people have their mother’s nose or their father’s chin? Or why dimples or freckles run in families? Our genes are our bodies’ instruction manual, and can influence everything from how tall we are to whether or not we think cilantro tastes gross. In this course we’ll learn about what a gene is and how our genes make us who we are! All material will be presented in an accessible format regardless of student ability. No extra course fee.