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UK/Japan research network report now available!

In 2019, the OU’s Social History of Learning Disability Group received UKRI ESRC funding to build a new research network between the UK and Japan. The focus of our research exchange was ‘learning disability and belonging’. You can find a report on it in the following link:

UK Japan report on learning disability and belonging

Our next SHLD conference will be on 13th and 14th July 2021. The theme will be Loss and Survival: Remembering and Staying Strong. The conference will be fully online.

We will add more details about the conference soon.  The call for papers will come out before Christmas. Watch this space!

    A multicoloured drawing by Kevin Chettle

    Here in the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group, based in the School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care at The Open University, we are committed to researching and disseminating learning disability history in ways which are inclusive of people with learning disabilities, their carers, relatives and advocates.

    At the heart of the group's approach, from its beginnings in 1994, is a recognition that people with learning disabilities are experts on their own lives, and have historical knowledge, viewpoints and skills to contribute. Such an ethos is reflected in our inclusive conferences, publications, research projects and close collaborations with a variety of learning disability organisations, including advocacy groups. The Research Group is internationally recognised, and has fostered partnerships with universities and advocacy organisations across Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

    We also offer advice, support and training in inclusive research methodologies, especially those which combine oral history, biography and archival research, and in writing funding proposals for social history of learning disability and related heritage projects.

    Pioneering inclusive methodologies, we have influenced learning disability policy and practice across the whole spectrum of health and social care agencies and personnel, from front line practitioners to senior managers, board members and policy makers to people with learning disabilities themselves. Our work has helped bring about positive change in people's lives, including those with high support needs. We have supported the emerging learning disability advocacy movement and the development of person-centred services. Establishment of inclusive research networks and conferences has enabled people with learning disabilities to publicise findings and enabled identification of research topics of key importance to disabled people, their families and practitioners.

    Aspects of the Social History of Learning Disability Research Group's work were recognised as Good Practice by the Department of Health in 2013.

    Contact us

    About the Group

    If you woud like to get in touch with the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group, please contact:

    Liz Tilley 
    Chair of the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group
    School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
    Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies
    The Open University
    Walton Hall
    Milton Keynes
    MK7 6AA

    About the website

    If you have any feedback or would like to report a problem with the website, please contact WELS-Research-Admin@open.ac.uk.