2: Research that includes disabled people

In this chapter we give a brief background to some of the key research models and methods in the field of disability studies, which has generated much of the conceptual work that informs the ideas presented in this book. The chapter includes:

  • Definitions of disability, and how these relate to models of disability.

  • The importance of using inclusive language and terminology, exemplified by the debate between the use of ‘disabled people’ vs ‘people with disabilities’.

  • An explanation of the distinction between research on disabled people and research with disabled people, and the wider implications of this distinction.

  • The perception that disabled people are vulnerable, and the implications this has for research ethics.

  • An overview of the research methodologies developed specifically for disadvantaged groups.

  • An introduction to Universal Design (UD).

This book is focused on research with the general population. We argue that, as most samples will include a proportion of disabled people, research needs to be conducted in a way that enables them to take part. One of the assumptions we make is that readers will be looking for ways to make it easier for disabled people to take part in their research, but that their research topic does not relate to disability, and does not take a disability studies approach. It is assumed that people researching specifically with disabled participants will seek out focused training resources and guidance in the use of appropriate research methods, and will have or develop an in-depth understanding of the needs of their group of participants. This book is intended for researchers who are not working specifically with disabled participants, and so the description of research methods is presented at an introductory level, with links to original sources that readers can explore further if they wish.

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