Professor Val J Williams

BA, M Ed, PhD

  • BS8 1TZ

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Research interests

I am a Disability Studies researcher with key interests in ways of conceptualising change, on the terms of disabled people themselves.  I am privileged to have been an executive editor of the international journal Disability & Society, from 2007-19 as well as being Head of the Norah Fry Research Centre 2013-16. 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. 

From 2015-18, I was very fortunate to work with a great team on the project known as 'Getting Things Changed'  http://www.bristol.ac.uk/sps/gettingthingschanged/  This was a very large, wide ranging and (crucially) co-produced research study. That means that disabled people and their organisations were involved from the outset in planning and executing the research. In 2021, we are still basing ideas and papers on the project, which has over 15 peer-reviewed articles published. Social Practice theories pulled our thinking together, and are strongly reflected in our latest article in 'Disability & Society'. 

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.

My research about communication and interaction falls within the field of applied conversation analysis (CA).  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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