5: Recruitment and the research setting

This chapter examines how the recruitment process and communication with (potential) participants can be made more accessible. We provide recommendations on how to reach out more actively to disabled participants, discuss advertising and recruiting strategies, and deal with the question of how to access a population with specific needs that does not define itself as ‘disabled’. As part of the participant recruitment process we explore the issue of emotional labour provided by participants, and how this relates to issues of compensation for participation. Throughout the chapter we stress the researcher’s responsibility to communicate the (un)availability of accommodations proactively.

Before we start, however, we need to point out that the research setting includes not only the participant but also the researcher, and in this context we want to acknowledge disabled researchers. They often face substantial barriers in their workplace as ableism in academia is still prevalent (see, for example, Brown and Leigh, 2018; Inckle, 2018; Lourens, 2020). At the same time, interactions with participants are influenced by the researcher’s disability:

Felicity [Boardman]’s identity as a disabled person operated differently depending on whether she was interviewing non-disabled or disabled people. At times a “disabled identity” appeared to signal shared experiences, the “right” to research, and take on board the concerns and issues of disabled populations, providing her with “insider status”. (Brown and Boardman, 2011, p 25)

It is important to keep in mind that disabled researchers may also be dealing with barriers to access, and that we need listen to and believe them. Navigating multiple identities amid often disabling work and research environments is complex, challenging and highly individual – making it not just extremely difficult but also inappropriate for us to advise disabled researchers on how to manage their work and research environment.

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