Disability Research Edinburgh (DRE) is a network of researchers whose work engages with disability. Founded by Music PhD student, George Low, in 2014, it now has over 60 members. Joy Vamvakari, a PhD student within the Institute for Music in Human and Social Development at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA), has developed the new DRE website. In this short article, Joy, and DRE member Dr Yuchen Wang, tell us about the launch of the site at ECA in June 2016…

“The event was opened by Professor Dorothy Miell, Vice Principal of the University of Edinburgh. She discussed how DRE, which began as a student-led initiative, has achieved its status as an interdisciplinary, intersectoral and international network.

In her talk, Professor Miell acknowledged that Disability Research Edinburgh has effectively enhanced the structure and landscape of disability research in Edinburgh, and beyond, through its seminar series and networking events. She also highlighted the supportive nature of the network for researchers and students”.

‘Nothing about us without us’

"Invited speakers included Iain Hutchison, George Lamb and Sasha Callaghan from Disability History Scotland (DHS). Together, they talked about the history and future of the organisation and, in a Q&A session, addressed topics such as the ‘pity’ attitude and the dehumanisation of disabled people.

The DHS team also showed their Lottery-funded film, One Last Push, which tells the story of the disability movement from WWI to the present day. Using artefacts and narration by local people, the film was animated by ECA graduate, Claire Lamond.

The contribution of disabled children and young people

“The next speaker was John Davis, a Professor in Childhood Inclusion based at Moray House School of Education. In presenting his work with disabled children and young people, he highlighted a welcome trend in academic research - that of greater participation of children as co-investigators and leading researchers.

John addressed the role of intersectionality in understanding children’s diverse and complex experiences and, by revisiting ‘Life as a disabled child’ and the ‘Liverpool youth project’, he emphasised the need for researchers to be reflective and willing to listen. He noted the necessity of post-research support, and questioned the current ethics procedures, which can present barriers to disabled people’s participation in research”.

DRILL funding

“During the last presentation of the day, Josie Isles from Inclusion Scotland offered detailed guidance on applying for Disability Research on Independent Living & Learning (DRILL) funding, covering the main themes for research and the essential elements in a proposal.

Josie stressed that DRILL funding is geared towards research led by disabled people, and aims towards innovation, new solutions and perspectives, with the ultimate purpose of generating real-world impact.

With such a great range of speakers and themes, and opportunities for networking and discussing future collaboration, the whole event was a great success.

Disability Research Edinburgh would like to thank ECA and the Institute for Academic Development for their support.

Find out more about Disability Research Edinburgh

The new DRE website provides further information about the network, as well as upcoming events and seminars. You can also follow the group on Twitter.

If you are interested in becoming a member of Disability Research Edinburgh, or would like to subscribe to our mailing list, please contact us at Disability.Research@ed.ac.uk.