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Lecturers’ Mini-Symposium 26th June 2014

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Presentation on theme: "Lecturers’ Mini-Symposium 26th June 2014"— Presentation transcript:

1 Lecturers’ Mini-Symposium 26th June 2014
What is emancipatory disability research? Dr Anne-Marie Callus University of Malta Faculty for Social Wellbeing Disability Studies Unit

2 Researching Disability
1 2 3 Disability Studies Unit - Faculty for Social Wellbeing

3 This is a familiar symbol which is used in parking places reserved for disabled people, or to denote accessible buildings and facilities. For many, it is also a representation of all disabled people, even if it actually refers only to that small percentage of disabled people who use wheelchairs. This is a contemporary take on the wheelchair symbol, and one which disabled people are promoting. The disabled person is actively pushing their own wheelchair, rather than passively waiting for someone to push it for them. But, in the tradition of Rene Magritte, these two are not people in wheelchairs. And unlike Magritte’s pipe, they are not even pictures of people in wheelchairs. They are line drawings which represent people in wheelchairs. The second image is seen as more dynamic because the lines are arranged in ways which suggest self-propelled motion in contrast to the static quality of the first image. Now if we manage to read all this from two drawings with simple different line configurations, think about what happens when we actually meet a person in a wheelchair. Or someone with Down Syndrome. Do we primarily see them in terms of their impairment? Or as equal fellow-human beings?

4 Emancipatory Disability Research
The social model of disability: the difficulties encountered by disabled people are not an inevitable consequence of their impairment but a result of socially constructed disabling barriers that can be removed or at least reduced. Material barriers Cultural barriers Disability Studies Unit - Faculty for Social Wellbeing

5 Emancipatory disability research is first and foremost about focusing on the person and not the impairment. But more importantly it is about the social model of disability, that is the belief that the difficulties encountered by disabled people are not an inevitable consequence of their impairment but a result of socially constructed disabling barriers that can be removed or at least reduced. Emancipatory disability research therefore focuses on the identification of these barriers and ways to remove or reduce them. Disabling barriers can be material ones, such as lack of physical access, or lack of access to communication and information. They can also be cultural and attitudinal. These are fundamental barriers which can also give rise to material ones. For instance, if an employer perceives disabled people as passive recipients of charity and thinks of them in terms of their inabilities, it is unlikely for that employer to provide physical access in the workplace.

6 Emancipatory Research Methods
Disabled people as active participants throughout the whole research process Research methods which cater for impairment-related needs Empowering disabled people through the research process itself

7 In emancipatory disability research, disabled people are not just passive research subjects but active participants involved in all parts of the research process as researchers or co-researchers from planning the research, to carrying it out through to dissemination of data. The research methods used take into account impairment-related needs: accessible venues for people with mobility impairments, accessible information and communication for people with print or communication disabilities, and specific research techniques for people with intellectual disability. So emancipatory disability research investigates the prejudice and misconceptions surrounding disability and seeks ways of dismantling disabled barriers in collaboration with disabled people themselves, taking their needs into account in the subjects researched and the research process itself.


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