1: Introduction

The starting point for this book is the observation that current research methods and methodologies constitute potential barriers for disabled people to participate in research. It is our experience that, outside research explicitly focusing on disability, accessibility is rarely, if ever, seen as a concern in the research planning stage (see also Berghs et al, 2016). We both feel strongly that, as researchers, it is our responsibility to make research more accessible, both for ethical and methodological reasons, and we want to use our joint expertise to offer practical advice on steps researchers can take to ensure more people can participate, and more voices are heard.

In doing so, we want to make sure that this book is clear and accessible to researchers, particularly those not yet familiar with the current debates surrounding the definitions of and perspectives on disability. Thus, for readers with a background in disability-focused or adjacent research, most of the theoretical considerations in this book will be very familiar. Generally, however, our focus is explicitly on practical advice, and, while we will provide some introduction to key concepts, this will be kept brief. Instead, we will recommend additional sources where key concepts can be explored in the ‘Further reading’ sections at the end of each chapter.

This book comprises nine chapters. In this chapter, we give a brief overview of disability prevalence globally, and set out the ethical and methodological case for accessibility, particularly in relation to validity and research quality, and the benefits of conducting research in an accessible way.

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