DRF Events 2021-2022

Date: October 12th 2021

Time: 2-3pm

Presenter 1, Name: Emma Sheppard

To register: Please sign up using Eventbrite

Talk 1, Title: Cripping Queer Futures

Talk 1, Abstract:

The proposed paper seeks to explore queer futures through a productive – and perhaps unproductive – conversation between crip time (Kafer, 2013; Sheppard, 2020; St. Pierre, 2015), queer futures, and xenofeminism (Cuboniks, 2018; Hester, 2018; Jones, 2019). In particular, the paper seeks to make space for crip joy in queer futures.

Xenofeminism, as imagined by “Haraway’s disobedient daughters” (Cuboniks, 2018; Hester, 2018) explores a techno-utopian gender-abolitionist future in which we see .a clear “refusal to frame nature as only and always the unyielding limit to emancipatory imaginaries” (Hester, 2018, p. 13). However, like Haraway before them, Xenofeminists have thus far shied away from directly engaging with crip thought. Thus, a crip intervention is timely.

Theorising and research around crip time has centred concepts of temporality, pace, and speed within disability: “disabled bodyminds are those who fail to perform heteronormative, flexible, independent, proper bodyliness, at the right time and in the right amount of time” (Sheppard, 2020). Disabled bodyminds are thus too slow, too fast, too uncontrolled, too reliant, too different; too much and not enough. Conceptually, crip time takes many of its cues from queer time, particularly in exploring how the heteronormative (heterotopic, perhaps) figure of the Child relies on ableist notions of a non-disabled future (Kafer, 2013). However, within crip time, there is more space – more time – for crip joy; joy in political practices and crip-queer practices of relating, loving, and joining. In bringing xenofeminism and crip-queer time into conversation, this paper asks if there is room for joyful crips in a techno-utopian future. However, whilst this conversation may be generative, it also celebrates the value of being unproductive – of disagreement and untidy conclusions.


Dr Emma Sheppard (she/her)

Lecturer in Sociology, Coventry University


My primary research interest is at the crip and queer intersections of disability, productivity, emotions, and time – particularly as experienced by painful, fatigued, bodies. I am particularly interested in theories and experiences of pain and fatigue within the context of critical disability studies, and developing how the notion of crip time can be expanded and developed to build understanding of how lived experiences of pain and disability are impacted by time, and vice versa. My broader

teaching and research interests incorporate disability, sexuality, gender, and accessibility in HE teaching.

Works Cited

Cuboniks, L., 2018. The xenofeminist manifesto: a politics for alienation. Verso.

Hester, H., 2018. Xenofeminism. Polity Press.

Jones, E., 2019. Feminist Technologies and Post-Capitalism: Defining and Reflecting Upon Xenofeminism. Feminist Review 123, 126–134.

Kafer, A., 2013. Feminist, Queer, Crip. Indiana University Press.

Sheppard, E., 2020. Performing Normal But Becoming Crip: Living with Chronic Pain. Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research 22, 39–47.

St. Pierre, J., 2015. Distending Straight-Masculine Time: A Phenomenology of the Disabled Speaking Body. Hypatia 30, 49–65.

Date: November 12th 2021

Time: 10am – Noon

Presenter 1, Name: Cathy Soreny

Presenter 2, Name: Angharad Butler-Rees

To register: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/drf-seminar-series-2021-event-2-tickets-191540020357

Talk 1, Title: Stories beyond words:Reframing representation of non-normative voices through co-created filmmaking

Talk 1, Abstract:

This co-created practice-based enquiry is exploring ways to represent diverse communication authentically and creatively, with a strong focus on self representation. Working collaboratively with people with communication impairments, specifically non-normative voices, we will create documentary films and immersive audiovisual installations. We will co-create work that offers a reframing of communication that moves beyond the dominance of normative conversation and offers a pluralistic, polyvocal stance.
Depictions of communication diversity in film, sound and arts will be examined as a group through a collaborative media review. Over ongoing workshops and gatherings we will creatively explore these themes in relation to the group’s lived experiences. Through these interactions we will co-create short films and installations, involving projection mapping, multiple screens, interactivity and sound art approaches, drawing viewers/listeners into communication spaces and unexpected dialogues that are vocalised and embodied around them and with them.
The research adopts a pragmatic approach to emancipatory research. Co-design principles and processes will inform the group work, and sensory ethnography underpins the commitment to exploring beyond the dominance of the verbal.
My PhD project was at the upgrade stage when Covid hit, diverting me back to frontline NHS nursing the past 18 months. As I return to my research in this new context, I am keen to present to the DRF to help me reflect on some core questions and emerging issues. In particular there are complex questions around my multiple practices as filmmaker, healthcare researcher and nurse, and how these might impact on dynamics within the project.

Talk 2, Title: Stigma and Identity Narratives of Disabled Young People: Initial insights from the Educational Pathways and Work Outcomes Qualitative Longitudinal Study

Talk 2, Abstract:

The ‘Educational Pathways and Work Outcomes of Disabled Young People in England’ is a 3-year Leverhulme longitudinal study, that seeks to understand the association of adolescent disability with educational and occupational disadvantage in England. While there is evidence to suggest that disabled young people lag behind in educational and work outcomes, there is still very little known about the social processes and mechanisms behind these inequalities. By utilising existing nationally representative longitudinal data alongside conducting a longitudinal qualitative study of disabled young people, the study seeks to produce a novel conceptual framework for the sociological understanding of disability differentials in educational and occupational attainment, challenging perspectives that consider disadvantage as a natural consequence of disability.

In this paper, I will draw upon some initial themes emerging from the qualitative longitudinal study, which consists of semi-structured interviews with 35 autistic, dyslexic and/or physically disabled young people aged between 15-16 years old (wave 1). A second wave of interviews will be conducted with these young people in approximately one year’s time. With the first wave of interviews now complete, I will explore in this paper participants’ experiences of prejudice, stigma and discrimination within the school context. In turn I will consider how these impact young people’s identity narratives or be successfully resisted by both themselves and their parents. In doing so, I will also consider the influence of both parental social class and the young person’s type of disability on their personal identity narratives and school experiences.

Date: December 17th 2021

Time: 2-4pm

Presenter 1, Name: Vera Kubenz

Presenter 2, Name: Richard Woods

To register: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/drf-seminar-series-2021-event-3-tickets-191543611097

Talk 1, Title: Disabled people’s encounters with strangers in accessible parking spaces

Talk 1, Abstract:

In this talk I will be discussing some initial thoughts and ideas for my PhD project, which examines the interactions disabled people have with others in the context of Blue Badge parking (the accessible parking scheme in the UK), how these interactions affect both their self-perceptions and their actions.

As my PhD research is at an early stage, I will reflect on how the project will relate to some existing themes and topics within disability research. These include in particular Reeve’s (2014) concept of psycho-emotional disablism and Thomas’ (1999) social-relational model of disability, both of which expand on the social model by considering the emotional effects of disablism and the role of interactions with other people in creating’ disability.

My work also aims to investigate disabled people’s experience of surveillance and staring, building on work by Garland-Thomson (2002). It will explore how disabled people react to these interactions and the measures they may take to avoid confrontation, for example by ‘performing’ disability a certain way (Campbell 2008). It will also critically examine the usefulness of concepts of visibility/invisibility as a way of explaining disabled people’s experiences. The project will consider the influence of the UK-specific context of 10+ years of austerity during which disabled people were frequently presented as ‘fakers’ or ‘scroungers’ in government and media campaigns (Briant et al. 2013).

I will also discuss the methods I am considering and how my work may contribute both to furthering of thinking in critical disability studies, and its policy implications for the Blue Badge scheme.


Briant, E., Watson, N., Philo, G. (2013) Reporting disability in the age of austerity: the changing face of media representation of disability and disabled people in the United Kingdom and the creation of new ‘folk devils’. Disability & society. 28(6):874-89.

Campbell, F. A. K. (2008) Exploring internalized ableism using critical race theory, Disability & Society, 23:2, 151-162

Garland-Thomson, R. (2002). The Politics of Staring: Visual Rhetorics of Disability in Popular Photography. In: Snyder SL, Brueggemann BJ, Garland Thomson R, editors. Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities. New York:: MLA; 2002. p. 56-75.

Reeve, D. (2014) ‘Psycho-emotional disablism and internalised oppression’, in J. Swain, S. French, C. Barnes and C. Thomas (eds) Disabling Barriers – Enabling Environments, 3rd Edition, London: Sage, 92-98.

Thomas, C. (1999). Female forms : experiencing and understanding disability, Buckingham: Open University Press.

About the presenter:

Vera Kubenz (she/her or they/them)

I am is a second career researcher working and studying at the University of Birmingham. I am completing my PhD part-time while also working on an AHRC-funded project on the impact of COVID-19 on disabled people in Low-and Middle-Income Countries. I am particularly interested in everyday experiences of disability, as well as the role of other people in ‘producing’ disability. My thinking also strongly draws on queer theory, gender studies, and media studies.

Talk 2, Title: Demand-Avoidance Phenomena (“Pathological” Demand Avoidance): as a biopower identity

Talk 2, Abstract:

There is significant interest and controversy in the United Kingdom (UK) surrounding Demand-Avoidance Phenomena (DAP) as an autism subtype, yet what is DAP’s potential impact on the UK’s autistic population, and autism community? DAP as a potential impairment category, provides disability studies scholars with a unique opportunity to investigate how DAP as a social construct evolves and operates over time. DAP is a “culture-bound concept” to the UK, this is despite DAP possessing little to no good quality evidence, which indicates what features are representative of it, and what it should be conceptualised as. Milton (2018) questioned if viewing DAP as an autism subtype may be harmful to the unity of the autistic community. Perceiving DAP as a biopower technology, that is used by certain UK autism stakeholders to control other national stakeholders, from utilising many caregivers campaigning for DAP’s recognition as an autism subtype, to ramifications of diagnosing DAP in autistic children and young persons. Consequently, DAP perpetuates established power dynamics, poor quality standards in research and practice, while generating internalised ableism amongst the autistic population. DAP provides a pressing example of how proposed impairment categories should be treated with extreme caution to prevent problems arising from reification.


Autism; biopower; demand-avoidance phenomena; extreme demand avoidance; pathological demand avoidance; rational demand avoidance.

Date: March 25th 2022

Time: 1-3pm

Presenter 1, Name: Raaper Rille, Francesca Peruzzo, and Mette Westander

Presenter 2, Name: Ameera Ali

To register: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/drf-seminar-series-20212022-event-4-tickets-265896963977

Talk 1, Title: Disabled student officers doing activism: borrowing from and transpassing neoliberal reason in English higher education

Talk 1, Abstract:

The relentless advance of a neoliberal reason continues to undermine education as a social good (Apple, 2013; Giroux 2011). The systematic withdrawing of the state is replaced by undeterred entrance of private actors and organisations in higher education, undermining equal opportunities and access to services based on principles of universalism (Carter, et alii, 2010). Competition and performativity engender widespread ableism (Beauchamp-Pryor, 2012; Dolmage, 2017), with disabled students being relentlessly sidelined, excluded and left behind even after a relatively more inclusive experience of distance learning during the series of lockdowns due to covid-19 (Disabled Students UK, forthcoming report).

In such a scenario, the role of unions has been increasingly weakened, in the name of individualised injustices that are dismembering the once united education community (Compton & Weiner, 2008; Stevenson, 2015). In particular, the neoliberal higher education agenda has impacted on the modalities of doing unionism, in which student unions suffer the increasingly consumerist environment in which students are asked to study and learn. This raises questions about how have disabled student unions been shaped by these processes of neoliberalisation of higher education? How have their practices of resistance been changed and moulded by the neoliberal drivers in HE governance?

In this presentation, we discuss the workings of neoliberalism and managerialism in education and the effects that years of corrosive processes of privatisation and managerialisation had on the strength of disabled students’ collective actions and on state’s commitment to socially just education, and fair working and studying conditions.

Merging Critical Disability Studies tools, in particular studies of ableism in academia (Dolmage, 2017; Campbell, 2009; Peruzzo, 2020); and Industrial relations studies on student activism in higher education and students’ political agency (Raaper, 2017, 2020; Brooks 2017; Brooks et al. 2015; Klemenčič 2011) we analytically mobilise Foucault’s (1991, 2000) ideas of governmentality and use qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews with disabled students and documentary material produced by DSUK.

By enabling critical reflections on the role of politics, collectivity and on the meaning of resisting, this presentation strives to open a debate on renewed strategies, complexity and contradiction in activism, but also the potential to transpass the neoliberal episteme in higher education. Mobilising beauty, cooperation, ethics of diversity to break the ableist narrative of progress and the managerial university culture it invites to rethink the present and the future of higher education and what it means to thrive collectively (Moe & Wiborg, 2017).


Apple, M. W. (2013). Can education change society?. New York and London: Routledge.

Biesta, G. J. (2015). Beyond learning: Democratic education for a human future. London: Routledge.

Beauchamp-Pryor, K. (2012) From absent to active voices: securing disability equality within higher education, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 16:3, 283-295, DOI: 10.1080/13603116.2010.489120

Carter, B., Stevenson, H., Passy, R. (2010). Industrial Relations in Education. Transforming the School Workforce. New York: Routledge

Dolmage, J., (2017). Academic Ableism: disability and higher education. Ann Harbour: University of Michigan Press

Giroux, H. (2011). On Critical Pedagogy. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

Foucault, M. (1991). Governmentality. In G. Burchell; C. Gordon; P. Miller, (Eds.), The Foucault effect: studies in governmentality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Foucault, M. (2000). The ethics of the concern of the self as a practice of freedom. In Rabinow, P. (Ed.), Ethics: Essential Works of Foucault 1954-1984 Vol. 1. pp. 281 – 301. London: Penguin Books.

Moe, T. M., & Wiborg, S. (Eds.). (2017). The Comparative Politics of Education: Teachers Unions and Education Systems around the World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Raaper, R. (2017). Tracing assessment policy discourses in neoliberalised higher education settings. Journal of Education Policy, 32(3), 322-339.

Raaper, R. (2020). Constructing Political Subjectivity:The Perspectives of Sabbatical Officers from English Students’ Unions. Higher Education, 79(1), 1-16

Stevenson, H. (2015). Teacher Unionism in Changing Times: Is This the Real “New Unionism”? Journal of School Choice, 9(4), 604–625. https://doi.org/10.1080/15582159.2015.1080054

Verger, A., Fontdevila, C., & Zancajo, A. (2016). The privatization of education: A political economy of global education reform. Teachers College Press.

Dr Rille Raaper is an Associate Professor in Sociology of Higher Education in the School of Education at Durham University. Rille specialises in student identity, experience and political agency in marketised higher education settings. She has conducted numerous research projects and published widely in the areas of higher education policy and practice and its impact on students as learners, citizens and political agents. Her most recent projects explore the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on disadvantaged students as well as student politics in the experience of disabled students.

Dr Francesca Peruzzo is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the School of Education at the University of Birmingham (UK). Her research interests lie in the intersection between politics, inclusion, ableism, and education policy. Her doctoral study focused on ableism and neoliberal policies in higher education and their implications for equity of opportunities, and she is currently the Research Lead of the DIGITAL in coronavirus project and the Education RESET project, analysing digital and non-digital technologies and inclusive assemblages in the Global South and North during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the implications of privatisation and neoliberal policies for social justice and inclusive education in a post-pandemic education.

Mette Westander is the Founding Director of Disabled Students UK (DSUK), recognised by Disability Power 100 as one of Britain’s most influential disabled led organisations. DSUK uses disabled led expertise to enable the Higher Education sector to provide equal access for their disabled students. They empower students, produce research and inform policy. Mette has led the work to create several influential reports on the situation for disabled students in Higher Education. Having graduated with a BA in Philosophy and Psychology from Oxford University Mette is currently studying for an MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience.

Talk 2, Title: “I Want You To Be Like Other Dads!”: Dis/Ableism in Children’s Picture Books featuring Disabled Parents

Talk 2, Abstract: In this talk, I will discuss the ways in which disability and disabled parents are discursively depicted within 18 children’s picture books featuring disabled parents. This talk seeks to elicit awareness surrounding disabled parents—a group that has traditionally been––and continues to be––stigmatized, marginalized, and excluded from conversations around parenting within the media, society, and academia. The discourse analysis guiding this research underscores the sociocultural messages that these books convey to their readers regarding ‘normalcy’ and ‘difference’ in parenting practices between disabled and non-disabled parents and reveals ableist discourses within these texts. This presentation seeks to elucidate the ways that these discourses intersect with one another and reflect broader sociocultural conceptions of disabled parents. Moreover, this presentation troubles dominant Western (contemporary and traditional) understandings of parenting by deconstructing the ways that parental expectations are often understood along ableist standards and strives to counter inaccurate and disableist conceptions of disabled parents. The implications of the books’ discursive messages will be explored in terms of how they may impact disabled parents, their children and families, as well as children of non-disabled parents. Finally, this presentation seeks to bring awareness into the realities of disabled parenting that are often unacknowledged, condemned, and seen as inferior.

Date: April 22nd 2022

Time: 2-4pm

Presenter 1, Name: Anna Slebioda

Presenter 2, Name: Tekla Babyak

To register: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/drf-seminar-series-20212022-event-5-tickets-306284815127

Talk 1, Title: Edith Stein`s philosophy as a new framework for disability studies

Talk 1, Abstract:

Edith Stein was a Jewish woman – philosopher who converted into Catholic and became a nun. However, she died in a concentration camp along with other Jewish people. This indicates her faithfulness to primary identity. –

This as well as her academic work, for instance on woman and her place in the society provide a new framework for analysing femininity in disability.

The presentation covers biographical facts as well as summary of Edith Stein`s philosophy. These elements are next linked to analyses from disability studies area so that at the end a novel analytical framework is presented.

Talk 2, Title: Authoring Access: Navigating Scholarly Publishing with Disabilities

Talk 2, Abstract:

Disability accommodations for academic authors are unauthorized. Submission guidelines for book proposals and journal articles never offer any way to request accommodations. Indeed, disabled authors have no legal right to receive accommodations. Academic writing falls outside the capitalist purview of the ADA, which only covers paid work.

How, then, might disabled authors advocate for accessibility? What strategies could be used to communicate access needs when submitting work to peer-reviewed academic venues? These questions are large, even overwhelming, in the face of the ableist rigidity of the scholarly publishing industry. I will approach these questions through a personal case study: my self-advocacy for disability accommodations when submitting my work for academic publication.

In this case study, I theorize my positionality as an academic writer who has multiple sclerosis. One of my MS symptoms is an anxiety disorder caused by neurological damage to the fear centers in my brain. The disability accommodation that I need is for the editors and the peer reviewers to be encouraging and supportive when giving me feedback. My current strategy is to contact editors about my access needs before submitting my work to them. I do not send them my work unless they commit to honoring my access needs.

These interactions subvert power hierarchies in a potentially liberatory way. I disrupt (and “crip”) the standard script for author-editor interactions, for my initial exchanges with editors are about my access needs rather than my manuscript. Thus, during these initial exchanges, editors end up hearing more about my disability than about my academic research. Some editors have responded well to this dynamic, while others have refused to take my access needs seriously. What emerges from these interactions is the difficulty, but also the hopeful potential, of author(iz)ing one’s own disability accommodations as an academic writer.

Biographical information

Tekla Babyak (PhD, Musicology, Cornell, 2014) is an independent musicologist with multiple sclerosis. The ableist workforce has prevented her from finding any form of stable employment. Currently based in Davis, CA, she is an advocate for the inclusion of disabled independent scholars in academia.

Her work falls broadly into two categories: disability activism in musicology, and research on 19th-century musical aesthetics. As discussed in her Current Musicology article “My Intersecting Quests as a Disabled Independent Scholar,” her activist work combines practical and philosophical ideas about how to uplift disabled voices in music studies. Her musicological research interests include hermeneutics, disability studies, and German and French aesthetics. Recent and forthcoming publications include chapters in Historians Without Borders (Routledge) and Rethinking Brahms (Oxford University Press).

Date: May 9th 2022

Time: 2-4pm

Presenter 1, Name: Toni Paxford

Presenter 2, Name: Shahd Alshammari

To register: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/drf-seminar-series-20212022-event-6-tickets-306289378777

Talk 1, Title: Crip time and Disability

Talk 1, Abstract:

In this talk I will share the findings of my undergraduate research which examined how youth and community work practitioners in a small organisation understand the concept of crip time.

The research focused on the three research questions: What do practitioners understand about crip time theory; How does crip time theory effect practitioners’ practice; and how can practitioners use crip time theory to inform their practices with young people with invisible illnesses. The data was collected through using insider, action, qualitative research methods, whilst the literature utilised a plethora of different sources including disability studies and youth and community work literature.

In this talk I will discuss my methods, findings, and recommendations in order to continue the conversation around crip time and youth work as well as devise a tangible way forward to encourage and promote positive change in practices.

Talk 2, Title: Writing Disability and Narrating Pain: A Middle Eastern Perspective

Talk 2, Abstract: In this talk, I discuss Disability Studies from a non-Western model. Disability Studies is almost unheard of in the MENA region. As a scholar living with disability, I have paved the way throughout exploring how disability features in literature, Middle Eastern television and pop culture, and I have also written the first memoir from the MENA region about disability and academic ableism. I share the process of writing disability and discuss how Western publishers received the work. I will examine some of these responses critically to explore how disability from a non-western perspective is received both in the West and the MENA region. A personal perspective is offered to navigate this complex terrain and I conclude my talk with an excerpt from Head Above Water: Reflections on Illness (Neem Tree Press, London, 2022).

Date: May 17th 2022 – Postponed due to illness

Time: Noon – 2pm

Presenter 1, Name: Emma Pullen and Laura Mora

Presenter 2, Name: Lucia Amber

To register: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/copy-of-drf-seminar-series-20212022-event-7-tickets-328135300517

Talk 1, Title: Cripvertising: Paralympians’ gendered representations of disability on Instagram

Talk 1, Abstract: Paralympic athletes increasingly turn to social media platforms to promote the Games, brand the self and raise disability awareness. In doing so, Paralympians create images that challenge dominant stereotypes around disability, particularly at the intersection of gender and sexuality. Through a visual media analysis, we examine the self-representations of the 22 most popular female UK Paralympians on Instagram and the ways in which they use postfeminist discourse to rebrand and popularise disability. Our paper marks the introduction of crip theory to this area of scholarship to critically examine the role of biopolitical discourses in shaping the conditions under which disability is granted visibility in the attention economy. By coining the term ‘cripvertising’, we develop a feminist account of newly emerging archetypes of disabled femininity that are underpinned by a hierarchy of heteronormative attractiveness and marketability. In highlighting this new normativity, we interrogate these images’ emancipatory potential for wider disability communities.

Talk 2, Title: Reimagining rehabilitative futurism using the social model and other ingredients

Talk 2, Abstract:

I want to take you with me to create something new. I’m not sure what it is yet, but I do have some ingredients that I have encountered along my academic journey. Whilst each element exists on its own, when blended together they will hopefully transform each other, either by complimenting or clashing for something unknown to emerge.

These are the ingredients:

Rehabilitative futurism is a concept I first heard at DRF some years ago, thanks to Harriet Cooper. It imagines a future world where illness is eradicated from the body through medical intervention. This is a process that disabled children endure in the name of normalisation and improved futures. 

The well known social model, that separates disability and impairment, states that it is not bodies that are in need of change, but society. It advocates for adapting environments and changing attitudes to include different bodies, without those bodies changing.

The personal recovery model of mental illness is a user-led concept that rejects the idea that recovery has to equal a medicalised cure. Recovery is all about living well with mental illness however it is apparent. It advocates for social inclusion and other ways of valuing people’s worth out of the norms of economic worth. 

This discussion will go into more detail about each ingredient and then blend them together, asking the questions: what if we transformed rehabilitative futurism with the social model? How about we add the recovery model too? What would that look like?  

Whilst I may go some way to offering answers, my hope is that you will join in and create something new with me!

I am Lucia Amber (Was Radcliffe and Coello-Lage in previous incarnations). I studied a Ba in Education and Disability Studies at Sheffield Hallam University, graduating in 2013. I have since become settled on the Msc in Mental health recovery and social inclusion, an online-only course run by the University of Hertfordshire. The course mixes people living with mental ill-health and those who surround us, professionally and personally, and works from a similar lens as disability studies.  I am interested in the power of language and words, as well as creating new lenses to see the world.

Date: June 6th 2022

Time: 1-3pm

Presenter 1, Name: Kerri Betts

Presenter 2, Name: Susie Ridout

To register: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/drf-seminar-series-20212022-event-8-tickets-339781785467

Talk 1, Title: Towards Voluntary Visibility: A New Generation of Autism Narratives?

Talk 1, Abstract:

How can we consider a text to be an autism narrative if it never actually mentions autism? How can we come to appreciate difference and disability when it may not be labelled as such? This paper asserts that considering these two questions in conversation with one another invites us to reflect on the double bind that autistic communities find themselves in: Make your care needs visible and have assumptions made about your abilities and capacities/ Mask your difficulties and be accused of not needing the appropriate care.

I build on Foucault’s notion of ‘compulsory visibility’ to construct my own ‘voluntary visibility’ to highlight how refusing to be immediately available or performatively transparent is a form of resistance. Of course, the importance of identity, labels and diagnoses can only be decided by the individual themselves and this paper does not aim to undermine the importance of this within self-advocacy and autistic culture, it simply aims to reframe the value of this disclosure being a choice rather than the only means of accessing care and inclusion.

Through Katherine May’s recent memoir Wintering I examine how the narrative reorients focus on the environment and dependency. As an autistic author, May’s writing is undeniably informed by her autistic perspective yet upon first reading, autism is absent from the text entirely. I explore how, in discussing the themes that orbit autism rather than autism directly, May demands that readers reconsider how they perceive disability by destabilising ideas of rugged independence towards a community of interdependence.

Talk 2, Title: Neurodivergent Inertia or Neurotypical Barriers? A Critical Perspective on the Inclusion of Neurodivergent Voices in Recovery from Gender-Based Violence.

Talk 2, Abstract: (Suzy has requested a Trigger Warning for this talk – issues of rape will be discussed)

This talk address a number of critical issues which highlight why the voices of neurodivergent victim-survivors of gender-based violence often go unheard. Matters impacting on neurodivergent individuals generally can be seen to be different in many ways to those impacting on the predominant neurotype. This is even more the case when gender-based violence and trauma form part of the narrative.

Taking a critical look at some of the key issues informing this agenda, Dr Ridout will highlight barriers neurodivergent individuals experience which lead to the absence of their voices in debates around recovery. The presentation comes from an insider perspective, as Dr Ridout is a neurodivergent victim-survivor of gender-based violence. It highlights pertinent aspects, such as disclosure, agency and inclusion, in relation to neurodivergent survivors more generally and weaves throughout the presentation some concerns that have impacted her recovery pathway.


Dr Susy Ridout joined Oxford Brookes University as an Associate Lecturer in the School of Architecture, Faculty of Technology, Design and the Environment in September 2019. She has spent over a decade supporting and tutoring neurodivergent and disabled students. Central to her work are the identification of communication preferences and methods to locate neurodivergent voices and those of victim-survivors to the fore in research, services and debate. Through a wide range of publications and practice, Susy has brought insider expertise to her work on Autism and Mental Wellbeing in Higher Education and Neurodiversity, Autism and Recovery from Sexual Violence. This is critical at a time where prevalence of gender-based violence and a failure to bring perpetrators to account are at an all-time high. Within this narrative, there is a glaring omission of neurodivergent voices, and, it is argued that as a neurodivergent survivor, Susy’s involvement is well-placed to look critically at issues behind this agenda.

Susy has previously held a number of teaching roles in Cuba (dance), Spain (English) and the UK (English, Neurodiversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing).

Date: June 15th 2022

Time: 2.30-4.30pm

Presenter 1, Name: Jill Powell

Presenter 2, Name: Katharine Terrell

To register: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/copy-of-drf-seminar-series-20212022-event-9-tickets-358374095567

Talk 1, Title: The role of qualitative network analysis in identifying unmet support needs for families supporting an adult with a learning disability within family homes

Talk 1, Abstract:

In the UK, an estimated 8.8 million people provide unpaid care to a family member, around two thirds of carers support an adult with a learning disability (LD) in their homes. This saves the economy around £132 billion per year. I have recently gained funding from the National Institute for Health Research School of Social Care to develop an idea which derived from my PhD which focused on the health and wellbeing of families supporting an adult with LDs in their home (Grey et al., 2018). In my PhD I used the Double ABC-X model (McCubbin, & Patterson, 1983) of family stress and adaptation as an analytic framework. Adaptive theories of family stress propose that carers who are exposed to long-term challenges develop strategies which, when combined with available support and resources (e.g. social support, financial and emotional support), act as buffers against the potential negative impact from challenges which arise from providing care. McCubbin and Patterson (1983) suggest that those families who face a pile-up of stressors which challenge or outstrip available resources may find their ability to manage an ongoing stressful situation reduced. An ongoing imbalance between stressors and available support poses a threat to carers’ well-being and may impede their ability to continue providing care to their relative. With over a decade of austerity in the UK and the COVID pandemic, families have seen a depletion in available support. This should raise concerns, especially for policy makers and social care providers alike. The aim of my project is to use qualitative network analysis to explore the support available to families and investigate whether unmet support needs can be identified through adopting this method before they escalate into crisis and a need for a more intrusive and expensive interventions.


Grey, J. M., Totsika, V., & Hastings, R. P. (2018). Physical and psychological health of family carers co‐residing with an adult relative with an intellectual disability. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 31, 191-202

McCubbin, H. I., & Patterson, J. M. (1983). The family stress process: The double ABCX model of family adjustment and adaptation. Marriage and Family Review, 6, 7–37

Talk 2, Title: Exploring (Dis)abled Children’s Embodied Experiences in Primary School Space

Talk 2, Abstract:

This talk is based on my PhD thesis, which explores how (dis)abled children in one inner-city English primary school experience classroom space in an embodied way. It takes Disabled Children’s Childhood Students (DCCS) as a starting point and applies Deleuzoguattarian ideas such as the “assemblage” and “becoming”, to contribute new knowledge to how classroom space disables and enables. 47 children (who took part regardless of a label of special educational needs (SEN), disability or impairment) shared their experiences through photography, drawings and model rooms, alongside ethnographic observation. Firstly, I found that the classroom space was saturated by the idea of vertical development: a normative expectation that children grow physically and metaphorically upwards towards adulthood. However, I also observed resistance from children to this idea. Secondly, I found that certain forms of embodiment in the classroom are encouraged while others are discouraged. Finally, I discuss the resistance and joyful potential in “leaks” which challenge the boundaries imposed on children’s bodies. Specifically, I contribute to the small but growing field of toilet studies in discussing expected behaviour in and around toilets.