UEL Research News

The latest research news and events from the University of East London

UEL to collaborate on new archive of learning disability history

Rix Centre participants

The University of East London (UEL) is helping to develop a co-produced digital and living archive of learning disability history as part of a new £1m project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The three year project is being led by Dr Liz Tilley from the Open University and conducted in collaboration with Andy Minnion MBE, director of UEL’s Rix Research Centre, and the University of Leeds (School of Fine Arts, Art History and Cultural Studies).

The project will explore issues involved in developing an accessible digital archive in collaboration with people with learning disabilities, alongside stakeholders in the fields of technology and design; new media; health and social care; heritage, archives and museums; and education.

Although academics, self-advocacy organisations, practitioners and families have been researching and recording fascinating aspects of learning disability history, much of this knowledge remains dispersed and difficult to access. The project’s key objective is to address this issue by creating a connected digital archive, in order to make the history of learning disability easier for everyone to access.

During the project, a working prototype archive will be developed. The process of producing this prototype archive will enable the team to address a series of conceptual, ethical, legal and technological research questions; set out a sustainability plan for the long-term viability of a learning disability digital archive; and compile training resources and guidance for stakeholders in health and social care, education, and museums, libraries and archives to support people with learning disabilities to become actively involved in collating and recording their history.

Andy Minnion says: “People with learning disabilities have extraordinary stories about their lives to share. Digital media technology can provide new accessible ways for these accounts to be surfaced, captured and published. We are inspired about working with this community, alongside our academic and creative industry colleagues, to enable the voices and experiences of people with learning disability to be heard. There is real excitement among the project’s participants that fresh knowledge and understanding about the most excluded people in our communities will be realised as a result of our collaboration on the ‘Living Learning Disability Archive’ project”

As a UEL research and development organisation, The Rix Research Centre is a committed to realising the benefits of new media technology to transform the lives of people who have learning disabilities. The Centre is the home to the novel Multimedia Advocacy approach, working with new media’s capacity to create and share self-made media, using words, pictures, video and sound clips as a way for people with communication challenges to convey their preferences and viewpoints. A range of Multimedia Advocacy courses and workshops are provided by the Centre for people with learning disabilities, staff from education, health and social services, parents and carers. The Centre has also recently received funding from NHS England to develop and trial a multimedia research instrument, the Friends and Family Test App, using the Centre’s Multimedia Advocacy approach.  For further details about the Centre and Multimedia Advocacy, please visit www.rixcentre.org.

 Image: Rix Centre participants

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