NDA Disability Research Conference 2002
"Using Emancipatory Methodologies in Disability Research"
The inaugural NDA Disability Research Conference took place at the Great Southern Hotel in Dublin on the 3rd December 2002. The conference was the first of its kind in Ireland and provided a much-needed forum for disability researchers aspiring to the principles of emancipatory methodologies and the empowerment of people with disabilities. Promoting the empowerment of people with disabilities in Ireland is one of the guiding principles of the NDA. Therefore, the theme of the conference, Using EmancipatoryMethodologies in Disability Research, was identified as one that could make an important contribution to developing our understanding of how research could contribute to the empowerment and emancipation of people with disabilities.
Two leading academics in the area of disability research were invited to present keynote speeches. Mike Oliver, Professor of Disability Studies at Greenwich University, London, presented a paper entitled 'EmancipatoryResearch: A Methodology for Social Transformation'.
David T. Mitchell, Director of the Ph.D. Program in Disability Studies and Associate Professor in the Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois, Chicago, presented a paper entitled 'Institutionalizing Disability Studies: Research Methodologies and the Quandary of Over-Analyzed Populations'. This paper critically examines the role of people with disabilities in disability research.
Rita Kwiotek, an NDA scholar and postgraduate student at NUI Galway, faced the unenviable task of responding to Professor Oliver, and did so with great enthusiasm during the first plenary session.
Patricia Noonan Walsh, the NDA Professor of Disability Studies at the Centre for Disability Studies University College Dublin, responded to Prof. Mitchell's thought provoking paper in the second plenary session.
The eight parallel sessions held during the day provided disability researchers from Ireland (and one from the UK) the opportunity to present papers on current or recently completed research. The themes of the parallel sessions included:
- the experiences of mental health service users;
- people with intellectual disabilities evaluating their place of employment;
- disability awareness training in third-level education;
- the specific experiences of Irish disabled women and those of young Asian people with disabilities in the UK.
A unique feature of the conference was the holding of two 'capacity building' workshops. These facilitated workshops afforded those currently researching disability the opportunity to share their knowledge and experiences. A World Without Bodies, a documentary film produced by David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder was also shown at the conference. This moving documentary examined how Hitler's eugenics policy led to the extermination of 240,000 "imperfect" citizens with disabilities.
The NDA was overwhelmed with the response to the conference it received from both those seeking to present papers and those showing an interest in attending the conference. Much positive feedback has been received and it is obvious that the conference has filled a gap in the field of disability research in Ireland. The conference has also provided a forum for researchers, students and others with an interest in disability to share their knowledge and to create a wider understanding of the experience of disability and of researching disability.
The proceedings of the conference are available online at our Using Emancipatory Methodologies in Disability Research page or they can be ordered directly from the NDA. We hope that the dissemination of these proceedings will further enhance the impact that this inaugural disability research conference has had.
Page last updated: 12/08/2010