Research Projects

Below are some past and present research projects that Disabilityuos researchers have been involved with:

Big Society? Disabled People with Learning Disabilities and Civil Society (June 2013 – June 2015)
The aim of this timely and exciting project is to explore the opportunities for disabled people with learning disabilities (LD) to contribute to and benefit from Big Society.The research team, from The University of Sheffield, Manchester Metropolitan University, Northumbria University and The University of Bristol, will be working with organisations of/for disabled people, activists and allies to discover how disabled people with LD are participating in their communities, in public services and in social action. The team will explore disabled people with LD’s access to social capital and networks of interdependence as well as their social emotional well-being in a context of austerity.

Does Every Child Matter, post-Blair?  The interconnections of disabled childhoods (September, 2008 – May, 2011)
How did disabled children, between the ages of 4 and 16 years old and their families, fared under the Blair government?  This project explored the extent to which policies, legislation and practices have tackled matters of exclusion and regeneration for disabled children. We engaged with parents, children and professionals to help us to explore the impact of the Every Child Matters agenda; the adequacy of existing theories about disabled children, parents and professionals; how the concepts of ‘good parent’, ‘enabling professional’ and ‘disabled children’ are promoted; the ways in which forms of ‘enabling healthcare’, ‘inclusive education’ and ‘accessible leisure’ can work together. Our study employed a critical review of policy, interviews with 10 disabled children and 10 parents, focus groups with a mix of professionals and 18 months observation of families as they participate in the arenas of health, education and leisure. Our work was informed by critical disability studies, critical and community psychologies and sociologies of childhood and families. It will be of interest to parent organisations, practitioners, policy makers and organisations of disabled people. This project built, in part, on a previous ESRC funded project (RES-000-23-0129).

2022 Futures Biohybrid Human Network two developments.
Rapid developments in bioengineering, computer science, psychology, and biomedicine are leading to increasing levels of interaction between humans and emerging biotechnologies in a wide range of settings from the clinic to the classroom. The use of these new technologies takes many forms, including implants, prosthetics, drugs and devices that modify or augment the body, and at the same time create new forms of individual and collective identity. These changes challenge both existing scientific and cultural categories and blur the boundaries between natural, social, and synthetic objects. The blurring of these boundaries raises important issues such as at what point does biology become artefact and technology become alive? In our increasingly biohybrid world, what does it mean to be living? And what does it mean to be human? The goal of the Biohybrid Human Network is to understand both the interactions and the distinctions between what we are and what we create, and to improve how we interact with our inventions. It involves academics from across the University of Sheffield and is initially focussed around three core research themes; i) biohybrid systems, ii) biohybrid individuals, iii) biohybrid societies.

We aim to create a cohort of PhD students who will work with the Biohybrid community to unite the pure and social sciences, medicine, engineering, and the arts. This requires flexible individuals with a range of backgrounds who will learn from each other and gain a wide range of research skills and enhanced interdisciplinary knowledge. We welcome applications from students who should have or expect to achieve an undergraduate honours degree at 2.1 or higher in a relevant field e.g. in computer science, cognitive science, Ecology, environmental engineering, neuroscience, psychology, social science or humanities. (

Beyond Autism: re-thinking the label, Economic and Social Research Council Festival of Social Science, 9th November, 2013
The number of people being diagnosed with autism is growing, this event wasan opportunity to reflect critically on current diagnostic trends. The discussion focused on the controversies surrounding the use of autism as a label to explain the ways in which people behave.

Evaluation of adoption activity days for British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) (October, 2011 – November, 2012)
Working with BAAF, we carried out an evaluation of a pilot project exploring the use of adoption activity days in the family finding process.  A seminar funded as part of the
Economic and Social Research Council Festival of Social Science was held on 3rd November, 2012, to share the research findings with a general audience.


Resilience in the lives of disabled people across the life course (October, 2011 – February, 2013)
Working with the UK disability charity, Scope, we asked:

Ø what resilience means to disabled people at different stages across the life course;

Ø how resilience, or a lack of it, has affected disabled people’s ability to negotiate challenges and make the most of opportunities in their lives;

Ø what works in building resilience amongst different groups of disabled people;

And we:

Ø developed a toolkit for use by Scope’s policy and services functions that outlines what Scope means by resilience, what does or doesn’t work in supporting people to become resilient, and what we can do to build resilience in disabled people throughout the life course.





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