Who will benefit?
The beneficiaries of this research fall into four main groupings:
1) The key beneficiaries of this project will be people with disabilities themselves, including user groups and activist communities. We particularly aim to improve service provision and quality of life for people with disabilities, not least by enabling the voices of people with disabilities to be heard as co-producers of the research;
2) Professional communities and service providers across a number of fields including arts, health and social care, education and employment;
3) The policy audience, including those government departments whose policies most directly impact upon the lives of people with disabilities, including the Departments of Health, Education, Work and Pensions, Business, Innovation and Skills, Culture, Media and Sport, and Communities and Local Government. Local Government itself will be another key beneficiary;
4) The general public.
How will they benefit?
Our aim is to create meaningful legacies for the communities and partners involved. Participants will benefit through the opportunities for reflection on their everyday lives, connections to others, and support with articulation of concerns and aspirations. D4D seeks to help them to establish both new voices and new networks.
We seek to provide a better, stronger evidence base which will challenge the assessment orientated, positivist models of disability that continue to manifest in economic policy and educational practices. We seek to address issues of power, alienation and marginalisation, shifting emphasis to the voices and lived experience of participants, promoting agency and integration, and providing a new model for people working with communities of people with disabilities.
This new model will improve engagement between manufacturers and providers of technology and the users of that technology, improving end products so that they better meet the needs of users. It will also inform and change practice so that schools and employers are better able to integrate people with disabilities.
Our focus on inclusivity will extend to the connections we create, as we will bring together organisations that have hitherto rarely worked together. Many of our partner organisations are local grassroots organisations, and we will help these link to national organisations involved with this project, such as DruK and Mencap.
Practitioners, professionals and policy-makers will be provided with new understandings and insights. They will be encouraged to engage with accounts that portray in vivid ways the outcomes of policy and entrenched practice. In each context we will seek to provide a forum for open and direct dialogue with disabled people and user groups.
Through pop-up and larger events, we will also assist the general public through thought-provoking performance that will engender more profound and humane understandings of disability and the issues that confront disabled people on an everyday basis.
Disability and Community: Dis/engagement, Dis/enfranchisement, Dis/parity and Dissent (aka the D4D project) will investigate the evolving ways in which disabled people express, perform, experience and practise 'community'.
The work will be informed by critical disability theory, and it will foreground the knowledge and lived experiences of disabled people. The project team brings together academics from a range of disciplines, community investigators with expertise in performance and arts practice, and community partners (including Shape, Accentuate and DRUK).
Our goals are to learn from participating communities, to build understanding, to generate opportunities for connections, solidarity, resilience and activism, and to create meaningful legacies for the communities and partners involved.
D4D will explore aspects of the historical, clinical, institutional, political and technological construction of disabled communities, and trace the ways in which community members have contested, rejected and embraced these varied possibilities over time. The project will facilitate agency and empowerment among participants, facilitate knowledge exchange and professional development, and create new spaces for dialogue and intervention.
D4D's research question is: In what ways are disabled people connected/disconnected to/from surrounding communities, and how might they trouble existing affiliations, re-situate themselves, and re-shape communities around them?
The team will explore this question while drawing on disability studies and community research literature, and engaging in continual collaboration and reflection (on issues of power, ethics and research practice, for example).
There will be 8 work streams:
WS1 - will explore issues of integration and marginalization, focusing on two settings: mainstream schools and the work-place. It will explore lived experience of 'inclusion'. This work will combine ethnographic studies, with a series of cultural animation workshops through which disabled participants will articulate and explore aspects of inclusion and marginalization.
WS2 - will explore the ways in which technology might impact on or facilitate experiences of social belonging, by focusing on play. The steam will support methodological development, as it will involve exploring the ways in which new technologies can support the agentic participation of non-traditional research participants.
WS3 - will examine the origins, development and future of the Disability Arts community. In particular, this will involve exploring the tensions within 'identity arts' movements regarding issues of affiliation and community.
WS4 - this strand will explore how participants form, experience and express alternative community, as well as how they manage their (dis)placement and disqualification by mainstream society. This research will also support disabled communities critically responds to clinical practice.
WS5- In this strand, arts based research will drive an investigation of past, present and future disabled communities. In particular, through the creation and exhibition of an interactive art-piece, 'Evolution', mainstream audiences will be asked to consider disability perspectives on such matters as eugenics and genetic screening.
WS6 - Playful Bodies, Technology and Community will address technologies, social change and the body, and identify the implications for disability and community, while drawing on player studies, social media research, collaborative game design, and public play.
WS7 - Ethics, reflection and learning for participation will inform all the above activities and support the practices and professional development of all those taking part.
WS8 - Will provide a forum for skill sharing and knowledge exchange across all streams, and work to maximize impact across and beyond the academic.