Title of ArticleIPAR, an inclusive disability research methodology with accessible analytical tools
Type of ArticleOriginal practice development and research
Author/sJanice Ollerton
ReferenceVolume 2, Issue 2, Article 3
Date of PublicationNovember 2012
KeywordsInclusive Participatory Action Research, learning difficulties, photo-voice, social constructionism

Background: Advocates of participatory research for personal liberation and social change emphasise the right of all people to be actively involved as researchers in matters relevant to their own lives. The United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities supports this principle, articulating the right of people with disabilities to participate in all levels of society, which clearly includes disability research. Such research may require inclusive research strategies, implemented and analysed by accessible tools, in order to facilitate high-level participation by people labelled with learning difficulties. Involvement at this level also challenges commonly held assumptions of incompetence and contests the very construct of learning difficulties. Inclusive Participatory Action Research (IPAR), a melding of the approaches of Inclusive Research and Participatory Action Research, challenges traditional research relations where research is done on rather than by or with people labelled with learning difficulties. IPAR establishes more equitable power relations by involving those traditionally viewed as research subjects as co-researchers.

Aims and objectives: To encourage researchers and human services practitioners to consider IPAR as a practical alternative methodology with which to inform disability research design, and to illustrate some accessible analytical tools.

Methods: Theoretical underpinnings of IPAR are discussed and some creative and accessible tools for analysis are presented using a case study of disability research conducted alongside people labelled with learning difficulties.

Implications for practice: The voice of people with disabilities must inform disability research design. Disability researchers must consider including their research participants as co-researchers. The utility and accessibility of creative research methodologies and tools enhance contribution opportunities for these co-researchers. This article provides new ideas that may inform practice in the disability services industry, nursing, healthcare and academia.

  • People labelled with learning difficulties have the right to be included in research concerning themselves
  • Inclusive methodologies and accessible research tools that facilitate participation of people labelled with learning difficulties as co-researchers in social research are available
  • Inclusive methodologies and accessible research tools enable people to demonstrate their abilities and to challenge assumptions regarding who can and cannot conduct disability research, illuminating inaccurate stereotypes that impede best practice
  • Inclusive methodologies and accessible research tools can provide access to new forms of knowing
This paper includes a commentary by Ruth Northway and a response by the author.
To read the full article, click on the link below.

This article by Janice Olle

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