Disabled activists’ involvement in developing and delivering disability studies at St Angela’s College, Sligo, Ireland

Authored by: Peter Kearns , Susan Carton

The Routledge Handbook of Service User Involvement in Human Services Research and Education

Print publication date:  August  2020
Online publication date:  August  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138360143
eBook ISBN: 9780429433306
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter describes the experience of developing and delivering Disability Studies at St Angela’s College in the northwest of Ireland, with particular reference to the involvement of disabled activists and academics. To provide some context for the chapter, there is a description of the social, political and economic factors which have influenced the development of the Irish State. There follows a description of how the courses were developed, the essential role played by disabled activists and academics and challenges that we encountered. The context for the partnership formed between the two authors’ organisations: the Disability Equality and Specialist Support Agency (DESSA) and the College. Plus, how the involvement of disabled students, Extern Examiners and Course Board members have enhanced the quality of the programmes on offer is discussed. The chapter also explores the history of the Republic’s disability movement and how there has been a re-emergence of activism grounded in disability equality values, community development practices and collectivism of Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs). Yet, the Irish universities and colleges still direct most of their consultation practices with the disability service provider sector and provide mainly medical model third-level rehabilitative courses. The contention of the authors is that collaboration is essential with disability equality technical support agencies and DPO-based disabled activism.

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