The RIX Research and Media team at The University of East London, who work regularly with the Social History of Learning Disability Research Group, have produced this short video that features the voices of the people with learning disability with whom Lord Rix has worked over the years. They appear on camera to celebrate his life and achievements and share their experiences of working with Brian as his colleagues.

Contraceptive choices for women with learning disabilities - Final Report

Contraceptive choices for women with learning disabilities is an Open University research project, supported by a grant from Open Society Foundations (Grant No: OR2014-12989). This inclusive project set out to explore women’s contraceptive decision-making and sought to include women with mild to moderate learning disabilities as well as women with high support needs. You can read the Final Report on our SHLD Reports page.

No Longer Shut Up

On 20th November 2015, the film of Mabel Cooper's life premiered at the Barbican. The film can be accessed on YouTube. Please read our Blog for more information.

The Welfare Reform and Work Bill: SHLD members attend All Party Parliamentary Group

On the 5th November 2015, Sue Ledger and Jan Walmsley from the SHLD Research Group attended a combined meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Learning Disability (chaired by Chris Heaton Harris) and the APPG on Disability (chaired by Lisa Cameron). The meeting was held to discuss changes outlined in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill. More information, including the reports from the day, can be viewed on the SHLD reports page.

An appeal for help

Rachel Allan is a student clinical psychologist at Plymouth University and is carrying out some inclusive research into the experiences of researchers who have learning disabilities. She would like to speak to people who have been involved in research (as a co-researcher) and have learning disabilities / difficulties. Rachel and her co-researchers are based in Cornwall but can travel to participants, especially if a small group of people may be interested in taking part. They have developed some easy read consent forms and information sheets for participants which they can forward on to anyone who is interested in taking part in a short interview about their experiences. Rachel is happy for anyone who is interested to contact her –

2015 Conference

We are delighted to announce that the next SHLD conference will be held at The Open University, Milton Keynes, on 18th and 19th June 2015. The theme of the conference will be Biography, life stories and life histories. Visit the 2015 conference page for more information.

2014 Conference

Our 2014 Conference 'Exploring positive practice in learning disability: past and present' was held at The Open University, Milton Keynes, on 14th and 15th July 2014. Visit the 2014 conference page to read the abstracts, listen to the audio presentations and look at the PDF presentations from delegates on the day.

Research Group recognised by the Department of Health

A photo of a building, with cars parked outside in a courtyard

In November 2012 the Research Group submitted three examples of good practice to the Department of Health (DH) consultation 'What does good look like?', set up following the Serious Case Review into the abuse of patients with learning difficulties at the Winterbourne View hospital. These have now been selected for inclusion in the Good Practice Project. This provides a powerful endorsement of the Research Group's work and its influence on policy and practice. The Department of Health report was circulated as part of the Joint Improvement Programme. There was also a Department of Health national event in Autumn 2013 to show-case the six final good practice projects. At this event, the Open University's research group presented with people with learning disabilities who were part of the work.

Participatory research seminars

Speakers and participants sitting round tables, looking towards a person giving a presentation

Liz Tilley, Rohhss Chapman and Melanie Nind, three members of the SHLD Research Group, joined Jane Searle from the University of Exeter to convene an Economic and Social Research Council funded seminar series. Its focus was on participatory research with people with learning disabilities and in particular the challenges related to two complex, but relatively under-explored issues, in participatory research:

The first seminar in Plymouth in January 2013 enabled us, with the speakers and participants, to scope the boundaries of developments to date. The second seminar in Manchester in April 2013 was strongly influenced by the people with learning disabilities involved in academic work there and explored developments in participatory data analysis. Speakers have included academics, early career researchers and researchers with learning disabilities from the UK and Europe. The third seminar took place at the University of Southampton in November 2013 and the last one in the series at The Open University in April 2014. The focus of these two final seminars was on the challenge of including people with greater impairment or need for support, and also the common ground shared with inclusive researchers in other fields such as childhood studies and ageing. For further information, please contact Melanie Nind or Rohhss Chapman.

2013 Conference

An image of a woman, standing behind a presentation table, giving a speech

Our 2013 Conference 'Avoiding more Winterbourne Views' was held at The Open University, Milton Keynes, on July 8th. We had upwards of 100 delegates and a rich array of speakers, including our keynote speaker, Margaret Flynn, author of the Serious Case Review into Winterbourne View. People with learning difficulties, academics, practitioners and family carers came from all over the UK, as well as Ireland, Scandinavia and New Zealand.

A sad farewell to Mabel Cooper (1944-2013)

Mabel Cooper, a long standing member of the Social History of Learning Disability Research Group and friend of The Open University, died on 22 March 2013. Mabel's life story became famous around the world after it appeared, to great acclaim, in the Research Group's book Forgotten lives (1997). She was a remarkable woman, inspirational and charismatic, but also generous and warm-hearted. She will be greatly missed by all her friends and colleagues. Read Mabel's obituary (PDF).

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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

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