Einstein's fish and the elephant – blog post

Getting excited

I’m really excited to have been at the first DRILL NAG last Friday.

In English, that means I went to the first National Advisory Group for the Disability Research on Independent Livingand Learning Big Lottery Funded project. The five year project is run disabled people’s organisations from each of the four UK countries, and roughly next April there will be the first call for research proposals.

I’m not usually so excited to travel long distances to give my time for free. But some things are just worth it. Being on the Wales National Advisory Group means I am part of something that, hopefully, will challenge and push the boundaries of coproductive research. And it’s even more exciting to feel that I can contribute to the conceptual thinking about coproduction and research.

What we now need are people across Wales to come to one of the three roadshows that explain DRILL, coproduction and how people can get involved.

The coproduction bit goes something like this:

  • Disabled people can be academics. But usually they aren’t. We need a shedload of disabled people who aren’t academics to come along to the roadshows and find out about the project. We also need some academics to come along, preferably ones who can ‘speak human’ or who are at least aware that accademicese is a language that most people in Wales don’t understand!
  • We need non-academic disabled people and academics (disabled or not) at the roadshows who get the message that society-changing research needs both groups to work together on an equal basis.
  • Everyone needs to be forgiving, willing to be honest and willing to tolerate a bit of discomfort. Whenever we try something new we are going to make mistakes. That doesn’t mean we are deliberately annoying people, ignoring them or discriminating against them. It means we are trying to do something we aren’t used to doing. In this case, DRILL is trying to get non-academic disabled people and academics to learn how to work together as equals.

The National Advisory Group has already led the way. We’ve managed to have a productive first meeting of non-academic disabled people/carers, academic disabled people and academics who aren’t (yet!) disabled.  Our hope is that if we can manage to communicate and push boundaries, then maybe the roadshows can. And maybe the research proposals will. And maybe the research itself will. And…. just maybe, we are at the start of a journey that will transform Welsh society.

And if that’s not worth getting excited about, I don’t know what is!

Read more of Anne Collis’s blogs here (external site)

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