Sky Journals of Educational Research Vol. 4(3), pp. 027-034, May, 2016. Available online http://www.skyjournals.org/SJER

ISSN 2354-4406 ©2016 Sky Journals

 

Full Length Research Paper

More than a “Nice Day Out” – How to encourage the meaningful participation of people with learning difficulties in disability conferences

 

Budge F1*, A. Schippers2, Kool J2, Miranda-Galarza B2 and Van Hove G2

 

1Burgermeester Engelbertsstraat, 44, 2042KP, Zandvoort, The Netherlands.
2DSiN, Stichting Disability Studies in Nederland, Stadsring 2/ Meet & Discover, 3811HR Amersfoort.

 

*Corresponding author. E-mail: fionabpost@yahoo.co.nz.  Tel: +3123651703489.

 

Accepted 7 March, 2016

Abstract

Disability researchers recognise the significance of knowledge exchange among participants. Increasing value is attributed to the importance of life experiences. It is surprising therefore, that no literature exists about participation of people with learning difficulties in disability conferences. To address this gap, Disability Studies in Netherland (DSiN)1 designed and implemented a ‘Buddy Project’ for a 2013 conference in Amsterdam. Relevant concepts were explored in literature, one group interview and eleven individual interviews were conducted. Participants with learning difficulties were sent a list of questions the day before. The Buddy Project assisted people with learning difficulties in both meaning and language translation. Although, people with learning difficulties had some sense of belonging at the conference, and understanding was increased, they felt they were not heard. The project was partially successful in increasing participation of people with learning difficulties, but less successful in facilitating mutual exchange of knowledge. If people with learning difficulties had been involved in its design, it would have been more successful, as they would have provided useful suggestions.

Key words:
Inclusion, belonging; mutual exchange of knowledge, people with learning disabilities, conferences.
 

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