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Disability Advocacy Research in Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - DARE (Disability Advocacy Research in Europe)

Reporting period: 2021-01-01 to 2022-12-31

DARE’s objective is to train a new generation of disability scholars and policy specialists. It comprised an ambitious research programme, providing interdisciplinary, intersectoral training which equipped 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 has exposed the ESRs to organisations outside academia and at the epicentre of reform. DARE has drawn on on a panel of international policy & disability experts to enable the ESRs to continually refine their research to ensure it has societal impact. It has made Europe a highly attractive educational space for research on the implementation of the UN Convention.

DARE trained a new kind of disability researcher to address these challenges, giving primacy to the lived experience of persons with disabilities. It equipped this new generation of researchers with the skills to achieve social and legal change. This required a deep understanding not just of the relevant legal and policy instruments (including the UN Convention and related European instruments) but also an understanding of the process of change. DARE has trained 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 has ensured that the DARE researchers are well positioned to become agents for change in their own countries and throughout the world.
31 deliverables have been submitted to the Commission across all seven workpackages of the DARE project. Workpackage 1 on Recruitment was completed in the first reporting period, with 15 ESRs recruited to 8 beneficiaries. Workpackage 2 on Training has been fully completed. ESRs attended 5 network-wide training events during the time period of this report (3 were face to face trainings and 2 were online training due to the impact of Covid19). For Workpackage 3 on Research, the ESRs have developed and published three core annual deliverables on their research including their design, methods and findings. All of these research deliverables have been published on the DARE website. Workpackage 4 on dissemination and communication has also been completed, with annual updates of the 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. Workpackage 6 on Management and Co-ordination, has also been completed in accordance with the Consortium Agreement and Supervisory Board document, 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 has progressed beyond the state of the art on disability rights research by exploring under-researched issues using an interdisciplinary approach. The ESRs all received supervision from a minimum of two different academic disciplines, and undertook 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. The research findings of the ESRs have been published on the DARE website, and within the published research deliverables the ESRs have identified concrete areas for reform of law, policy and practice to ensure the full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Network-wide training events during the period covered by this report included diverse stakeholders (always including training from both academic and non-academic beneficiaries and partners) to facilitate multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral dialogue. The structure provided numerous opportunities for ESRs to interact as part of secondments, network-wide training events and ongoing supervision. Non-academic beneficiaries and partner organisations had a key role in facilitating the dissemination and exploitation of research findings to different target audiences. At the final network-wide training event in particular, ESRs presented their research findings and received feedback from a diverse range of international scholars, civil society organisations, and policy-makers – ensuring their work can continue to impact on the development of law, policy and practice on disability rights.

The aim of DARE has been 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 were 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 has worked 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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