Professor Val J Williams

BA, M Ed, PhD

  • BS8 1TZ


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research interests

I am a Disability Studies researcher with key interests in ways of conceptualising change in policy and practice, on the terms of disabled people themselves.  I am privileged to be an executive editor of the international journal Disability & Society, a post I have held since 2007, as well as Head of the Norah Fry Research Centre since 2013. I have worked for over forty years with people with learning disabilities (intellectual disabilities) in various capacities, always with a view to promoting and facilitating people’s own voices. My reflections on the links between policy, practice and change in Intellectual Disability are contained in my latest book (Williams, 2013).


My current work lies largely in the field of personalisation, choice and control, and spans a wide range of individuals, disability groups and intersections of identity. Disabled people in the UK, across Europe, and internationally still face many challenges and barriers, including institutionalisation, prejudice, poverty and injustice. I believe that research can address and help to change lives.

Two central themes come together in my research, both represented in my 2011 book, Disability & Discourse. These are:

a) Inclusive and emancipatory research: including disabled people as active researchers;

b) Analysing naturally-occurring communication.

My research about communication and interaction falls within the field of applied conversation analysis (CA). I have presented at the two most recent international conferences in CA, and have an upcoming panel at the International Pragmatics conference in Antwerp in 2015. CA is a disciplined research approach which aims to reveal the basic order of interaction that underpins social life, and as such is open to exciting developments to be applied to real interactional problems that face disabled people of all ages. For instance, what happens when frontline support workers interact with people with dementia? How are medical practitioners equipped to understand their encounters with people with intellectual disabilities?

These are just some of the questions that still need to be addressed in Disability Studies research.



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The Values of Assessment

Williams, V. J., Porter, S. M., Symonds, J. P., Miles, C. J. & Steel, M.



Project: Research

  • Research Output

    'Future lived experience': inclusive research with people living with dementia

    Williams, V. J., Webb, J. C., Read, S., James, R., Davies, H. & Forget-me-Not Research Group, 6 Jan 2020, In : Qualitative Research. 20 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

    Open Access
  • 85 Downloads (Pure)

    Interactional strategies for progressing through quizzes in dementia settings

    Webb, J., Lindholm, C. & Williams, V., 5 Feb 2020, (Accepted/In press) In : Discourse Studies.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

  • Open Access
  • 57 Downloads (Pure)

    Supervised Work

    Bereavement Support for Adults with Learning Disabilities: An Inclusive Participatory Study

    Author: Mason-Angelow, V., 23 Jan 2019

    Supervisor: Williams, V. (Supervisor) & Abbott, D. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


    Through the eyes of a child : How do children who have experienced domestic violence see their world?

    Author: Wagstaff, M., 2009

    Supervisor: Williams, V. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Educational Psychology (DEdPsy)


    Understanding The Journey Towards School Staff Wellbeing

    Author: Bellamy, V., 12 May 2020

    Supervisor: Franey, J. (Supervisor) & Williams, V. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Educational Psychology (DEdPsy)