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Disability Advocacy Research in Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - DARE (Disability Advocacy Research in Europe)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2020-12-31

DARE is training a new generation of disability scholars and policy specialists. It sets out an ambitious research programme, providing interdisciplinary, intersectoral training which equips the ESRs to have a real impact on law and policy reform and on the real lives of persons with disabilities. The goal of DARE is to give legitimacy, through research, to the lived experience of persons with disabilities, as a basis for law reform. This is not just a desirable policy goal - it is legally required by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which is binding in the EU alongside its Member States. DARE innovates intersectorally by bringing non-academic partners into the very heart of the research and training programme as co-supervisors of the ESRs. It innovates intersectionally by emphasising how various identities (such as gender and age) interact to create layers of discrimination against persons with disabilities. It innovates by training the ESRs in emancipatory and participatory research methods to ensure that the voices of persons with disabilities take centre stage in the research process. Through a carefully tailored secondment strategy in the advocacy community, DARE exposes the ESRs to organisations outside academia and at the epicentre of reform. DARE draws on a panel of international policy & disability experts to enable the ESRs to continually refine their research to ensure it has societal impact. DARE makes Europe a highly attractive educational space for research on the implementation of the UN Convention. The overall objective of the Disability Advocacy Research in Europe (DARE) programme is training a new generation of researchers in the field of disability rights, by embedding them in the top universities in this field, with exposure to key civil society organisations working at grassroots level to secure the rights of persons with disabilities. DARE brings together Europe’s leading disability research and advocacy organisations from both the academic and the nonacademic sector.

DARE is training a new kind of disability researcher to address these challenges, giving primacy to the lived experience of persons with disabilities. It equips this new generation of researchers with the skills to achieve social and legal change. This requires a deep understanding not just of the relevant legal and policy instruments (including the Convention and related European instruments) but also an understanding of the process of change. DARE trains researchers on the barriers and opportunities that must be faced in the process of change and how to interact with, and persuade, a wide range of stakeholders (including government, civil society, service providers and the general public) of the need for change. This training ensures that the DARE researchers are well positioned to become agents for change in their own countries and throughout the world.
To date, 28 deliverables have been submitted to the Commission across all seven workpackages of the DARE project. Workpackage 1 on Recruitment is fully completed, with 15 ESRs recruited to 8 beneficiaries. Workpackage 2 on Training is progressing well, as ESRs have attended 3 network-wide training events during the time period of this report (2 were face to face trainings and 1 was online training due to the impact of Covid19). For Workpackage 3 on Research, the ESRs have developed their methodologies in conjunction with their supervisors, considered the ethical implications of their research plans and produced their first reports on their research findings from Year 1. Workpackage 4 on dissemination and communication is also on track, with a completed and updated Dissemination Plan and Communications Plan for the project. As part of this Workpackage, an electronic and Accessible Social Media Platforms report was compiled to ensure ESRs research reaches the broadest possible audience, and to facilitate feedback from the community and interested parties.

In order to ensure that individual ESR research projects are designed for maximum societal impact, each ESR in consultation with their supervisors developed at the outset of their project a list of relevant actors and decision-makers to target for impact and a plan of action to reach these as part of Workpackage 5 on Impact and Exploitation. The Impact Working Group, together with the members of the International Panel of Public Policy & Disability Experts, reviewed the plans, provided feedback for improvement and monitored its implementation. For Workpackage 6 on Management and Co-ordination, the Consortium Agreement and Supervisory Board document are in place, along with the DARE Data Management Plan. For Workpackage 7 on Ethics Requirements, both deliverables have been completed and submitted to the Commission. These relate to the procedures and criteria used to identify and recruit research participants, the process for obtaining informed consent, and statements of compliance with the rights of data subjects and national data protection legislation in the countries in which the research has been carried out.
DARE is progressing beyond the state of the art on disability rights research by exploring under-researched issues using an interdisciplinary approach. The ESRs all receive supervision from a minimum of two different academic disciplines, and undertake secondments in academic and non-academic settings – giving them a uniquely grounded perspective on what is needed to achieve social change that makes a real impact in the lives of disabled people.

Network-wide training events took place during the period covered by this report by diverse stakeholders (always including training from both academic and non-academic beneficiaries and partners) to facilitate multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral dialogue. The structure provides numerous opportunities for ESRs to interact as part of secondments, network-wide training events and ongoing supervision. Non-academic beneficiaries and partner organisations have a key role in facilitating the dissemination and exploitation of research findings to different target audiences.

The aim of DARE is to support greater voice, power and change for persons with disabilities in society through the development of a new kind of inter-disciplinary researcher profile. DARE ESRs continue to be trained in this project to identify law and policy challenges in the field and to adapt their research methods towards an innovative application that supports full participation and equality in diverse settings. Disabled People’s Organisations, and in particular the non-academic partners in DARE, voice their desire for researchers who can carry out a more innovative analysis of disability challenges from a range of viewpoints, and who can produce research that will have a lasting impact on policy. The DARE network continues to work towards producing a new generation of scholars that can move beyond a discipline-specific focus to grow new research agendas with a key focus on moving reform processes forward.
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