Inclusion, Participation, and Self-Advocacy: Workplace Learning and Persons with Disabilities

SSHRC Funded Research and Development Initiative

Research Team: Tara Fenwick, Katy Campbell, Janice Wallace, Dick Sobsey
Research Assistant: Sarah Hoffman

University of Alberta

Our research project could more accurately be described as a consultative process with interested advocates and scholars who do work with those who are disabled and employers who are working to accommodate disabled workers in the workplace. We have in mind a broader definition of disabilities in the workplace that includes but moves beyond those who need substantial accommodation to do their work or to be included in "disability programs". For example, those who are somewhat medically fragile, or those with some workplace challenges because of an accident, medical condition, or age may not qualify as being "officially disabled" but are often seriously compromised within the competitive work conditions of a globalized marketplace.

The specific objectives of this project are to:

  1. begin to build a collaborative university-community network to share knowledge, resources, and perspectives related to the role of learning in increasing inclusion, participation and self-advocacy in the workplace of persons with disabilities;
  2. identify significant issues and leading research findings informing these issues;
  3. identify new research questions and approaches towards a larger grant proposal; and
  4. promote the work of the network more widely to draw attention to these issues within the larger work-and-learning research community.

After interviewing academics and community partners in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and the UK, potential themes for future exploration were identified. Our research team held a one-day symposium with invited participants from all of these locations to explore potential research foci for future projects that would build on the themes already identified. A follow-up consultation process and information sharing will be held in Edmonton, Alberta with potential research partners in Ontario and the UK during the first week in February, 2007, followed by further consultation and refining of potential research foci with other symposium participants. We anticipate developing research funding proposals in 2007-08 as well as preparing papers, archiving and preparing a bibliography of research materials, and developing other means for disseminating our current findings. We will post current information on the WLN webpage as it becomes available.