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SHLD launches Keeping in Touch events!

This year the SHLD group will run a series of FREE online Keeping in Touch events. These events will replace our annual conference that usually takes place at The Open University in Milton Keynes.

Keeping in Touch days are designed to help us keep connected during the pandemic and share exciting developments in learning disability research and practice. They are inclusive sessions (on Zoom), involving a mix of presentations and discussion.

Visit the conferences page for more info

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

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

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