Disability Research Forum

*News Flash*

Next week I’ll be opening a round table discussion at Sheffield Hallam’s Disability Research Forum (DRF) on ‘Defining Disability’, specifically I hope this session will help us understand what the process of definition itself does to our understanding. As always, the DRF is free to attend, so if you’re interested  participating you’re very welcome. The location is easily accessible and very close to the central station.  My session follows a presentation by Graham Grace-Gardener (Sheffield Hallam University) entitled ‘Is universal educational inclusion desirable and/or possible?’.  Abstracts are detailed below.

Monday 7th December 2009: 2pm-4pm (Arundel Building 10111, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield)

  •  ‘Is universal educational inclusion desirable and/or possible?’ Paper presentation by Graham Grace-Gardener (Sheffield Hallam University)

The Inclusive Education agenda has hit the hard places, how do we include the children at the extremes of acting out behaviour or those who have severe learning difficulties?  Is universal inclusion possible?  Is it desirable? Who makes these decisions?  What informs these decisions?  Can universal inclusion be obtained in a late capitalist post-welfare society? This paper will be a socio-political discussion of the inclusion agenda informed by the work of Herbert Marcuse. It will try to address whether a one dimensional view of the world, reinforced by globalisation, precludes the change needed to bring about universal inclusive education?  The session will be an informal sharing of initial thoughts around these points.

  • ‘Defining Disability: Using Taxonomies and Facets to understand what categories and definitions do’ Roundtable Discussion led by Sarah Lewthwaite (University of Nottingham)

Governments, legislation and models of disability and each advocate a certain perspective on impairment and disability. Each of these defines disability in its own way, with powerful effects on the lives of disabled people. In this open discussion I would like to introduce some developments from Information Architecture on the problem of category-making and definition to shed light on how definitions work. 

Foucault (1966) identified the ‘invisible power’ of categories, however Bowker and Star (1999) observe that critical discourse has not pursued this analysis. Whilst dominant definitions are challenged and negotiated, the nature of categorisation and its influence is not fully understood. I hope that, during a formative discussion, we can evaluate and identify potentially new approaches to defining disability within research and teaching.

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