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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.

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