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Digital Archive of Learning Disability History

In 2010 the Research Group, in close collaboration with the Rix Centre at the University of East London, carried out a scoping exercise to assess the possibilities of a digital archive of learning disability history. It was conceived that at the heart of this archive would be a multi-media collection of stories and testimonies from people with learning disabilities and the key people in their lives. It would also preserve previously unheard institutional and community histories.

Funded by a grant from the Rix-Thompson-Rothenberg Foundation, a small research group team scoped existing archival sources and consulted closely with key archival bodies (London Metropolitan Archives, Libraries and Museums Council, National Archives), the Open University Library and learning disability self-advocacy groups (Talkback in Buckinghamshire, Carlisle People First in Cumbria) as well as the Rix Centre. This team found that although a vast array of rich data existed in a variety of formats, it was highly disparate and often inaccessible. This finding supported the case for developing a central space for people to engage with learning disability history.

As a direct result of this pilot project, a major funding bid was submitted in 2012 by The Open University to the Arts and Humanities Research Council for a three year project aimed at establishing a digital archive of learning disability history.

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.