A journal has been published that contains articles edited andpeer reviewed by people with learning disabilities - said to be afirst for academia anywhere in the world.
A University ofManchester team of academics and people with learning disabilitiesworked together on the new issue of the Journal of LearningDisabilities. The journal include a piece on the Canadianeducation system, an insight into the complexities of communicationfor people with Asperger's syndrome, breaking bad news and the lowtake-up of annual health checks in Oxfordshire.
Team member DrRohhss Chapman, lecturer in learning disability studies at theUniversity of Manchester - and also editor of the 'researchunpacked' section of Learning Disability Today - said theproject shows it is possible to make research into learningdisability much more inclusive. The work also sparked a debateamong the team into how inclusive much research involving peoplewith learning disabilities really is, she added. It also raisedquestions about the language learning disability researchers shoulduse to make their work more accessible. "As an inclusive group ofresearchers at The University of Manchester, we are pleasedwhenever we see research with and by people with learningdisabilities rather than on people with learning disabilities," she said. "Learning disabled researchers find it difficult to gain arightful place in discussion within academia - even though theyhave a great deal of insight and knowledge. "This is despitegovernment departments, research councils and the larger charitiesdemanding greater inclusivity."
Chapman added that the team didencounter some difficulties in the process of publishing thisedition: "Some of the papers, for example, involved sensitivetopics which upset some of our team, sparking a discussion about iflearning disabled people should be shielded from difficult issuesor not. The considered opinion of the team was generally not,providing effective support was in place."
The journal's editor,Professor Duncan Mitchell, who is based at Manchester MetropolitanUniversity, added: "This special edition of the journal issignificant because it explores ways in which people with learningdisabilities can engage in research and ensure that papers that areabout them are written and reviewed by them."
Lou Townson, one of five members of The University of Manchester team who has learning disabilities, added: "From my own experience as someone withlearning difficulties, I feel that there is nothing we can't do, wejust might need a bit more support. "In terms of working withresearchers, it's isn't usually the information which is difficultto understand but the way it is presented. We learned a lot byworking in this on this journal. "People with learning difficultiesdo have a valuable contribution to make to academic research intolearning difficulty and I hope our work helps to make thecase."