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DRF Session 2

Hi Everyone!

Our second Disability Research Forum is going to be on Thursday 6th Dec, at 11am – 1pm. The session will be held in the Charles Street Building (next to Arundel) again room 12.03.16 – which is on the third floor. Please do get in touch if you have any accessibility needs or questions.

We have two more wonderful speakers:

Speaker 1: Julia Bahner

Title: Sexual citizenship in practice: diverse opportunities for support

Abstract:

Disabled people’s sexuality is a neglected subject in disability services, health care, within the disabled people’s movement, and in society as a whole. Inaccessibility and failure by professionals to recognise disabled people as sexual can lead to unmet needs, misconduct and reproduction of prejudice about asexuality. This paper will explore what ‘sexual citizenship’ means in practice for people with mobility impairments who may need professional support to conduct their sexual activity as desired, i.e. sexual facilitation. Through a cross-national approach the paper demonstrates the variability of how sexual rights are understood and their culturally-specific nature. It also shows how the personal is indeed political: states’ different policy approaches change the outcomes for disabled people in terms of support to explore and express their sexualities. A critical analysis of disability policies as well as sexual health policies reveals how the sexual needs of people with mobility impairments are often ignored. Furthermore, disability organisations’ different approaches to advocating for sexual rights highlights how some of them inadvertently adapt to what is deemed as ‘policy-relevant’ and how sexual rights are often less a priority than other rights – especially in times of austerity. So, is sexuality merely a luxury or is it an inherent part of being human? Do service users have a right to sexual pleasure, and if so, how is this to be catered to in practice, and if not, on what grounds do non-disabled people in power positions define disabled people’s sexual lives?

Speaker 2: Thomas Price

Title: “Officially Described as Mysterious”: New Directions in Demystifying Autism

Abstract:

Autism and communication are almost invariably linked; consequently autism is frequently defined in relation to communication. My research aims to provide an exposition of how our understanding of autism, is limited by our understanding of communication.

My research draws on the works of Roy Harris, in order to expose the underlying communicative assumptions that have been made in previous autism research. Such assumptions include: that verbal communication should take precedent; that the researcher is a social “scientist” and that autistic communication is deficient.

Harris’ work, while considered radical in the field of linguistics, offers a unique opportunity to the linguist who is researching autism. In order to demonstrate this, I outline how the Harrisian epistemology can lead to a more participatory, linguistic approach. Too often linguists impose their own perceptions on autistic communicative behaviour. My proposed methodology traverses this flaw, instead championing the autistic voice and the autistic perspective.

It is my goal to pave the way for linguistics to join the emergent wave of participatory research. Our understanding of autistic communication can only be furthered through a combination of lived experience and research experience.

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DRF Session 1

Hello Everyone!

I am please to announce our first DRF session of the academic year. Hope to see you there! Details are as follows:

Wednesday, 14th November.

Time: 11am – 1pm.

Place: 12.02.05 Charles Street Building, Sheffield Hallam University. City Campus

This is on the second floor of the Charles Street Building which is just next to Arundel where we held meetings last year.

Speaker 1: Katharine Terrell

PhD Student Sheffield Hallam University

Title: Disabled children and embodiment

Abstract:

I will be exploring some of the key issues around how we conceptualise children’s embodiment, with a focus on children that are labelled as disabled, having an impairment, or having Special Educational Needs. Firstly, I will consider the meaning of embodiment; the importance of studying embodied experiences; and how bodies interact with, and co-create, space. I will explore some of the ways in which children’s embodiment has been neglected or overlooked in academic work, and consider the ways in which we might be able to study disabled children’s embodiment without returning to pathologising, disempowering accounts of disabled children’s experiences. Such disempowering accounts include adults’ concerns that children’s bodies “develop” in a way that is normative and reflective of expectations that children will become “productive” adults, which is reflected, for example, in the way classroom spaces are designed.

In the second part of this presentation, I will build on this theoretical background to place my PhD project into context and introduce some key emerging themes. I will introduce my methodology, which involved interacting with children aged 5 to 7 in a northern English primary school to understand their embodied experiences and their use of school spaces. As part of this, I will explore some of the theoretical and practical problems of trying to enter children’s worlds as an adult. Then I will take the audience through some of the data—photographs, drawings and field-notes—and discuss what these data might tell us about how children’s bodies act in space, create spaces and resist power dynamics enacted through space.

Speaker 2: Steve Graby

PhD Student University of Leeds

Title: “It would be nice if you didn’t have to jump through hoops”: barriers to the realisation of personal assistance as a means to independent living for disabled people in the UK

Abstract:

The direct employment of personal assistants (PAs) by disabled people has been a part of the landscape of social services in the UK since the 1980s, and was established on a national level by the Community Care (Direct Payments) Act in 1996. It was originally envisaged by the Disabled People’s Movement (DPM) in the UK as an essential component of an emancipatory strategy for achieving ‘independent living’, in which ‘independence’ is reconceptualised as decisional autonomy and self-determination in everyday life. However, the use of a form of waged employment as a tool for liberation presents a potential contradiction with the analysis by founding theorists of the DPM of capitalism and its labour relations as the basis of disabled people’s oppression.

In my doctoral research I conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with current and former PAs and disabled people who employ(ed) PAs, intending to investigate contradictions within and potential alternatives to the direct employment model of personal assistance. However, participants found alternative possibilities hard to discuss because barriers to the implementation of this model have arguably meant that its emancipatory potential has never been fully realised. In this paper I present data from these interviews which reveals the effect of these barriers on the everyday lives of disabled people with personal assistance needs and on the personal assistance relationship. I then discuss suggestions made by PAs and employers for changes in policy and practice that could help to overcome these barriers and fully realise the original vision of personal assistance, and conclude by examining some tensions that may remain even after its realisation.