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Biography - Dr Rohhss Chapman

A photograph of Dr Rohhss Chapman

Rohhss Chapman has worked in partnership with learning disabled colleagues since 1990. She is an ally within the self-advocacy movement and works in partnership with the Carlisle People First Research Team Ltd, where all members are Directors.

She gained her degree and MA in Sociology at the University of Essex (1983/85). After gaining teaching qualifications (adults) and working as a researcher, she returned to academia in 2000 undertaking a PhD with The Open University, exploring the role of self advocacy support in the UK through the process of inclusive research. Her work in the meantime included research, community development, teaching women returners, management and youth-work as well as supporting the development of People First.

Rohhss is Programme Director of Learning Disability Studies at the University of Manchester and also lectures on the MA in Critical Learning Disability Studies. She is a School representative on the University Research Ethics Committee (UREC) and on the University Widening Participation Committee.

She is editor of Research Unpacked for Learning Disability Today, a magazine published every other month for professionals working in learning disability services. She is also book reviews editor for the British Journal of Learning Disabilities working in collaboration with Lou Townson, and an editor of Disability and Society.

Rohhss recently worked with colleague Craig Blyth and the Partnership Steering Group of the Learning Disability Studies programme to produce the first co-edited special edition of 'British Journal of Learning Disabilities' featuring collaborative and partnership research through the process of collaborative review. This was a world first.

She has an interest in critical disability theory, how it impacts on the lives of learning disabled people and the processes of  inclusive research. She has been involved in many collaborative research and writing projects and is concerned about inequality.

Rohhss's current work (2013-2014) is in areas of emancipatory approaches, advocacy, critical disability theory, ethics, gender, sexuality and social inequality.

Selected publications


  • Chapman, R. and Tilley, E. with Townson, L. (2014) Advocacy in Health and Social Care: A Critical Introduction, Palgrave.
  • Chapman, R. Townson, L., Docherty, D. and SHLD (2014) Intimacy and oppression: Sexuality and Relationships in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, Jessica Kingsley.
  • Chapman, R. and Tilley, E.  (2013 forthcoming) “Self advocacy support and a relational concept of care:  revisiting and reinterpreting” in Ethics and Social Welfare.
  • Chapman, R. (2013 forthcoming) “An exploration of the self advocacy support role through collaborative research: 'there should never be a them and us'", Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disability.


  • Chapman. R. and Townson, L.  (2012) "Researching Together: pooling ideas, strengths and experiences." In Better Health in Harder Times: active citizens and innovation on the frontline, Bristol, The Policy Press.
  • Rohhss, C., Blyth, C., Townson, L., Hughes, R., Blunt, C., Hayward, D., Frost, L. and Perry, B. (2012) "Special Issue on the research and work of people with learning disabilities and their allies and supporters." British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 40, no. 2.
  • Harkness, E., Townson, L., Docherty, A., Dias, J., Brownlee- Chapman, C., Eardley, M. and Chapman, R. (2012) “Keeping Wartime  Memory Alive: an oral history project about the wartime memories of people with learning difficulties in Cumbria, Disability and Society, 27, 1, pp. 31-49.
  • Carlisle People First Research Team (2011) "What do people labelled with learning difficulties think about their access to direct payments?" Learning Disability Today: Research Unpacked.


  • Harkness, E., Townson, L., Docherty, A., Dias, J., Eardley, M., Macauley, S. and Chapman, R. (2007) 'Carlisle People First Research Team: Project on Advocacy and Autism', Disability and Society, Vol. 22, 5, pp. 523-536.
  • Mitchell, D., Traustadottir, R., Chapman, R., Townson, .L, Ingham, N. and Ledger, S. (2006) Exploring Experiences of Advocacy by People with Learning Disabilities, Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
  • Chapman, R. (2006) 'Devolved policy for people with learning difficulties in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland', Community Care in Perspective. Care, Control and Citizenship , Palgrave, pp. 97-106.
  • Chapman, R. (2006) The role of the self advocacy support worker in UK self advocacy groups: developing inclusive team research (unpublished PhD), School of Health & Social Welfare, The Open University.
  • Rolph, S., Atkinson, D., Nind, M., Welshman, J., Brigham, .L, Chapman, R., Ingham, N., Ledger, S. and Walmsley, J. (2005) Witnesses to Change: Families, Learning Difficulties and History, Kidderminster, BILD.
  • Shoeters, L., Schelfhout, P., Roets, G., van Hove, G., Townson, L., Chapman, R. and Buchanan, I. (2005) 'Partnership working between university researchers and self-advocacy organizations: "A way forward for inclusion?" in England and "Fine feathers make a fine bird" in Flanders', Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, Vol. 9(4), pp. 345-357.
  • Chapman, R. and McNulty, N. (2004) 'Building Bridges? The role of research support in self-advocacy', British Journal of Learning Disabilities, Vol. 32(2), pp. 77-85.
  • Townson, L., Macauley, S., Harkness, E., Chapman, R., Docherty, A., Dias, J., Eardley, M. and McNulty, N. (2004) We are all in the same boat: doing 'people-led research', British Journal of Learning Disabilities, Vol. 32, pp. 72-76.
  • Chapman, R. and Buchanan, I. (2004) 'Organising and Managing Citizen Advocacy: Research in the School of Health and Social Welfare', Mencap, The Open University.
  • Chapman, R., Spedding, F., Harkness, E., Townson, L., Docherty, A. and McNulty, N. (2002) 'The Role of Self Advocacy: stories from a self advocacy groups from the experiences of its members', Advocacy and Learning Disability, Jessica Kingsley, pp. 137-151.

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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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