This page provides the specific details of upcoming DRF events.

In case you are interested in contributing to one of our future sessions, please contact Stephanie Swain: s.r.hannam-swain@shu.ac.uk. Please do have a look at our guidelines about accessible presentations.

If you have any accessibility requirements, including having someone to meet you beforehand please email Steph to try to facilitate: s.r.hannam-swain@shu.ac.uk

DRF Seminar Schedule 2018-2019

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


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


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.


Thursday, 6th December

Time: 11am – 1pm.

Place: 12.03.16 Charles Street Building, Sheffield Hallam University. City Campus

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

Speaker 1: Julia Bahner

Title: Sexual citizenship in practice: diverse opportunities for support


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


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.

Tuesday, 29th January 2019

Time: 2pm – 4pm.

Place: 12.02.19 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: Esme Cleall

Title: History as a tool of public engagement: disability, identity and the past


In 2017 I worked with Sheffield Voices, a self-advocacy group of adults with learning disabilities, and Sandra Thomas, a film-maker, to make a short film about the history of disability in Sheffield, where we all live.

The film documented the discussions we had about history: What did we mean when we spoke about the ‘past’? What did it mean to be disabled when our parents and grandparents were young? Could history teach us about the roots of the hate-crime which so many of the group experienced? It also provided an opportunity to discuss some of the challenges members of the group faced today such as cuts to public funding.

These were difficult discussions to have. They involved exploring negative words  that were used in the past to mean someone with a learning disability – ‘idiot’, ‘moron’, ‘imbecile’. And they meant presenting information that made members of the group sad and angry.

In this session I will show the 15-minute film (subtitled) that we produced. I will follow it by a 10-15-minute paper which reflects on the ethics of me, as an academic who does not have a learning disability, in working this group who have consistently been excluded from academia. I also reflect on the extent to which the film was coproduced? And think about what is the role of history and the past in thinking about and engaging in disability activism today?

Speaker 2: Shona Davison

Title: Pros and cons of autistic parenthood

Abstract:There is a dearth of research on autistic parenthood. Parenting increases engagement with services such as healthcare and education, which means that autistic parents are forced to engage with services that do not understand them or their needs. This study uses case studies and thematic analysis. Six autistic parents were interviewed about the pros and cons of being an autistic parent. This resulted in four themes: autistic characteristics, relationships, indirect effects of autism and stress. An important finding was that all participants reported negative relationships with professionals and three participants were fearful of losing their child(ren). One parent was falsely accused of fabricated and induced illness, which led to a lengthy traumatic investigation. The findings are discussed with recommendations for future research.

Friday, 22nd February

Time: 10am – 12pm.

Place: 12.02.20 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: Louise Logan-Smith

Title: ‘The Giant Hotspot’: Museums, Medicine, Literature and the Cultural Afterlife of Charles Byrne


The Hunterian Museum’s acquisition and display of the human remains of the eighteenth-century ‘giant’ Charles Byrne have been embroiled in ethical debates surrounding the competing claims to and contested ownership of the body. In June 2018, it was announced that the museum would be removing Byrne’s remains from display during a refurbishment period of three years, during which time they would ‘consider’ the possible repatriation and burial of his bones. This present example of the contentious legacy of remains in museums raises issues concerning the ethics involved in collection and display, but it also brings to light the ways in which historical collections are ethically embroiled in disability politics. Focusing on disability and museum discourse, as well as literary and textual analysis, this paper interrogates the extent to which interdisciplinary narratives can insight a “cultural redress” (Snyder, Brueggemann, Garland-Thomson, 2002) of disability representation and the cultural afterlife of the ‘freak show’ in museums.

Speaker 2: Maram Alwadi

Title: The Inclusion of Disabled Children in Oral Health Research


Despite the fact that current policies encourage the involvement of disabled children in decision- making and research about matters that affect their lives (UNICEF, 1989), whilst the educational, sociological and nursing research have made progress towards inclusion, disabled children have been less commonly included in oral health research. The importance of listening to children, including disabled children, is well supported in policy as well as in literature (Sinclair and Franklin, 2000; Willow, 2002).

Within the field of oral health research, two valuable systematic reviews have been conducted to show how far dental research has been done with or on children. The first systematic review found that the majority of research (87%) of papers viewed children as the ‘objects’ on which to do research on, rather than with (Marshman et al., 2007). An updated systematic review identified that the proportion of research on children had decreased by 23% over that decade and moved more towards research with children rather than on them (Marshman et al., 2015). What neither systematic review does is identify whether disabled children are viewed as a diverse group and if they are included in oral health research. Therefore, my PhD research has two aims which are to:

  • Review the literature on the inclusion of disabled children in oral health research (Study1)
  • Explore the oral health views and experiences of disabled children, their formal and informal carers and service providers (Study 2)

The systematic review of the current literature on the place of disabled children in oral health research, revealed that most oral health research is conducted on disabled children. Unlike previous systematic reviews of inclusion of the voices of children in oral health research (Marshman et al, 2007; Marshman et al, 2015), disabled children were mostly excluded from research. This suggests that there is a need for research that attempts to use methods, which include disabled children as fully as possible to ensure that their perspectives are obtained, and their voices are heard.

Therefore, the second study aims to enable the voice of disabled children to be heard in oral health research through exploring their perspectives of oral health and oral health services. Meanwhile, the views of mothers, as the significant adult in children’s home life, their service providers and teachers as the significant adults in the children’s life will be sought to triangulate with and support the children’s perspectives. The current study is significant since the voices of disabled children appear to be mostly excluded from oral health research. This has an impact on service provision and policy to identify areas for improvements in oral health services and oral health promotion initiatives.

Note: The presentation will present the systematic review of the current literature on the place of disabled children in oral health research. It will also present an overview for the study two which aims to explore the oral health views and experiences of disabled children, their formal and informal carers and service providers.


Monday, 25th March

Time: 1pm – 3pm.

Place: 12.02.19 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: Petra Anders

Title: Promoting Inclusive Theatre Work and Dance Practice


This presentation discusses how Niko von Glasow’s play Alles wird gut [Everything will be Alright], the film Resilience and Inclusion: Dancers as Agents of Change, which is part of to the British Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project InVisible Difference: Dance, Disability and Law, and Ohad Naharin’s Gaga Movement Language contribute to inclusive theatre work and dance practice.

I investigate how rehearsal dynamics change, if the director of a play or choreographer of a dance performance are themselves disabled, and not only (some of) the actors or dancers. The inclusive potential of Naharin’s Gaga Movement Language, on the other hand, is based on in the fact that this method was not created for people with disabilities in order to give them the chance to dance, but can be used by dance professionals with and without disabilities as well as amateur dancers with and without disabilities.

All three approaches are stunning examples of how theatre work and dance practice (can) become more and more inclusive and diverse.

Speaker 2: Ciaran Burke

Title: “Repeat after me…”: dysfluency and the pursuit of gestalt.


Within social science research, identifying as a particular type of researcher carries with it certain assumptions about an individual’s personality type and approach to knowledge or epistemology. A researcher who opts for a quantitative approach to data collection and analysis is often understood to be more “scientific” or “good with numbers” whereas the qualitative researcher is a “people person” who enjoys talking with people and getting to know their respondents on a personal level in pursuit of understanding rather than explaining a phenomena.  Thus, to be a qualitative researcher, the researcher is expected to enjoy talking and be able to talk on demand without hesitation or pause, in other words be fluent.  The friction that this paper wishes to unpack is that between the assumption of ease of speech and dysfluency, in particular stammering, in the context of life history research.

Life history research covers a broad range of approaches to data collection and analysis. However, a particularly clear and at the same time dogmatic approach within this school is the biographical narrative interview method (BNIM).  Stemming from grounded theory, BNIM developed by Fritz Schütze (1992, 2008) and Rosenthal (2003, 2005) and Miller (2000, 2005) has offered an opportunity to conduct ethnographic research within an interview setting (Burke, 2011). As outlined in many of these texts, the BNIM has a set of very strict rules which surround the principle of “gestalt”, essentially preserving an individual’s narration and protecting it from as long as possible from the researchers’ interference.  Two central rules which allow this to happen are:

  • Once the initial narration question is asked, the researcher cannot interject or direct the narration either verbally or physically.
  • Once the initial narration has finished the researcher can ask questions but covering topics in the order the narration presented them and using the precise language used by the respondent. It is this second rule which presents issues for researchers who have a disability which affects fluency of speech. In this chapter I will first outline the sociological literature concerning speech dysfluency building on previous application of social theory to consider why stammering is such an issue within communication and why is it a site of ridicule and a marker of devaluation of that individual. I will then briefly set out the current landscape, within the UK, for academics who stammer. The chapter will then turn to outlining the specific mechanics of the BNIM and the rationale for its application within my own research. I will reflect on the issues I faced when balancing a lack of fluency and adhering to the strict rules of the BNIM. In addition, I will discuss ways in which the gestalt can be preserved within the BNIM while not requiring researchers to keep to the strict language parameters the method currently demands. As such, I will provide guidelines for future researchers who wish to engage with this method but would initially feel unable to meet its demands.

Friday, 12th April

Time: 11am – 1pm.

Place: 12.02.19 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: Richard Woods

Title: An Updated Interest Based Account (Monotropism theory) & a Demand Avoidance Phenomenon discussion.”


This talk explores recent literature on monotropism theory to explain Demand Avoidance Phenomenon (DAP). Previous DAP theory focuses on role of anxiety in producing a need for control that is suggested leads to demand avoidance. However, we provide an alternative view by situating in critical DAP scholarship, highlighting the uncertainty around the DAP construct. Utilising the work of Beardon (2017) to develop monotropism to elucidate how anxiety acts in autism & thus, DAP. Monotropism theory clarifies the nature DAP phenotype behaviour from a non-pathologising perspective, bringing DAP theory in line with common views of autistic persons. The theory adds to the epistemic integrity of DAP research & assist in closing the theory-to-research-to-practice gap. Consequently, generating accurate interpretations that can allow for use of suitable strategies.  

Speaker 2: David Hartley

Title: Autism, Replicants and Other Humans: Exploring Fantastical Neurodiversity with Blade Runner (1982)


The encounters of autism and the fantastical Other are fraught with adverse ideological implications wherein autistic individuals are cast as ‘aliens from another planet’ (Ian Hacking, 2009) or treated like ‘cold soulless automatons’ (Penny Winter, 2012). And yet, science-fiction and fantasy fandoms can be places of refuge and community for autistic people who are disaffected by an allistic (non-autistic) world, where neurodiverse heroes such as Spock from Star Trek and The Doctor from Doctor Who often reign supreme. And yet the genres themselves tend to avoid including characters coded as autistic in their narratives, thereby creating a conspicuous void in the cultural representation of autism.


Can the narrative strategies of science-fiction and fantasy be productively reconfigured to better suit the paradigms of neurodiversity? How might the presence of autism help us to rethink the theories of fantastical genres? Might we be able to root out autistic representation in futures and fantasies that have thus far avoided it? This talk will tackle a behemoth of science-fiction, Ridley Scott’s 1982 dystopia Blade Runner, to seek out the possibilities of its neurodiverse message and to find productive autism within its radical replicants. It will also take on the genre at the level of theory by confronting Darko Suvin’s ideas of the ‘cognitive estrangement’ of science-fiction (Suvin, 1979). It asks: exactly whose cognition does he refer to? And whose estrangement?

Tuesday, 14th May

Time: 11am – 1pm.

Place: 12.02.20 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: Emma Rice

Title: Employing inclusive research methods: autistic pupils’ sense of self and the influence of mainstream schooling


Autism advocates critique autism research for the exclusion of autistic voice, its predominant focus on identifying deficit development, and its subsequent focus on ‘normalising’ through treatment (Chown et al., 2017; Milton, 2014; Milton & Bracher, 2013). Autism and sense of self research regularly employs autistic young people in comparison with their ‘normative’ counterparts, exploring autistic sense of self in terms of what is lacking in comparison with others. Responding to the call for more participatory and inclusive research methods, the research project reported on in this paper, draws on participatory paradigms to enable autistic young people to articulate their sense of self- to tell the story of ‘who am I?’ with their own voice (Chown et al., 2017; Milton, Mills & Pellicano, 2012). Alongside this, the mainstream secondary school environment and its influence on autistic young people’s positive or negative self-views is explored. In focusing on an inclusive research approach, the project is engaging with a plurality of research methods, as advised by Stone and Priestley (1996) with the autistic young people involved employing individualised modes of expression. Consequently, this research project draws together visual, verbal and written methods to consider how autistic young people conceptualise their sense of self, including the impact of mainstream schooling on this. Within this presentation, I will explore how drawing on a participatory paradigm and providing a range of choices, including in methods of expression, has enabled autistic pupils to share their views and experiences. This evaluation will include autistic pupils’ own appraisal of the participatory methods employed together with their experiences, thoughts and opinions in relation to sense of self and mainstream schooling.

Key words: autism, participatory, voice, sense of self, mainstream secondary school.

Speaker 2: Antonios Ktendis

Title: ‘Does an extra inch make a ‘real’ difference?’

Short Stories of Young People with Restricted Growth of their Secondary Education


Once we start talking about the body and how we live in our bodies, we ‘re automatically challenging the way that power has orchestrated itself in that particular institutionalised space (hooks, 1994: 136-137).

Does growth matter? To whom? Where? Why? Whose/WHO’s growth?

Two stories, three readings, no morals.

Critical Disability Studies, Disabled Children’s Childhood Studies, Dis/Human Disability Studies

Biopolitics, Critical Pedagogy, Biopedagogies, Heightism

Stories, counter stories, (counter)storytelling, embodiment, storying, dis/storying

Restricted (Growth), (Restricted) Growth, (Restricted Growth), Restricted Growth