Trinity College Dublin’s School of Social Work & Social Policy and Inclusion Ireland launched new research on the experiences of social inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities in Ireland at a special event last week.
Entitled ’19 Stories of Social Inclusion – Ireland: Stories of Belonging, Contributing and Connecting’ the research tells the story of 19 people with intellectual disabilities – 9 men and 10 women aged between 19 and 68 – from cities, towns and villages all over Ireland and their experiences of social inclusion. These stories are told in videos and through pictures and words.
All of the participants’ individual video stories – Claire’s story, Nicole’s story, Jenny’s story, Carina’s story, John’s story, Gerald’s story, Joe’s story among others are available on the Inclusion Ireland website.
An accompanying report provides analysis on what these stories tell us about social inclusion in Ireland and how policy can support people with intellectual disabilities to live socially included lives in their communities.
This project was conducted through inclusive research in which two co-researchers with intellectual disabilities were members of the research team, Tomás Murphy and Margaret Turley who are also graduates of the Certificate in Contemporary Living at Trinity College Dublin.
People with intellectual disabilities in Ireland are more likely to be socially excluded than other people. They are more likely to experience poverty, are less likely to be employed and less likely to be living independently in the community than non-disabled people.
However, in spite of this, there are also people with intellectual disabilities taking part in their communities and living ordinary lives all over Ireland.
The research aimed to give an opportunity for people to hear their stories and know that it is possible for people with disabilities to lead both ordinary and socially included lives in the community.
Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), focuses on the right to live independently and the right to be included in the community. The study collected 19 stories as the study was about article 19 of the CRPD.
Participants reported on the value of social inclusion, including how it made them feel, how social inclusion creates opportunities for further social inclusion, as well as their roles in creating positive change in society so that other people with intellectual disabilities can live socially included lives.
Seeing people with intellectual disabilities as unique individuals, self-advocacy skills and the leadership qualities of participants, inclusive environments and the involvement of supports enabled socially included lives.
Participants reported on the nature of the support in their lives and set out the qualities of good supporters, who established reciprocal relationships with them, who helped adapt external environments and identified resources in the community, and who made plans with people with intellectual disabilities rather than for them.
Commenting on the significance of the research, Dr Edurne Garcia at the School of Social Work and Social Policy said: “As Ireland implements the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the stories gathered through this research project provide excellent examples of how social inclusion can be achieved. We hope these stories inspire Irish communities so social inclusion becomes the norm for people with intellectual disabilities.”