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With or without us? : an audit of disability research in the Southern African region

McKenzie, Judith ; Mji, Gubela ; Gcaza, Siphokazi (2014-06)

CITATION: McKenzie, J., Mji, G. & Gcaza, S. 2014. With or without us?: An audit of disability research in the Southern African region. African Journal of Disability, 3(2): 1-6, doi:

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Background: Disability research in the global South has not received significant critical consideration as to how it can be used to challenge the oppression and marginalisation of people with disabilities in low-income and middle-income countries. The Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD) embarked on a programme to use research to influence policy and practice relating to people with disabilities in Southern Africa, and commissioned an audit on research expertise in the region. In this article, a research audit is reported on and situated in a framework of emancipatory research. Objectives: This article sets out to describe a preliminary audit of disability research in the southern African region and to draw conclusions about the current state of disability research in the region and make recommendations. Method: The research method entailed working with disability researchers in the ten SAFOD member countries and utilising African disability networks hosted on electronic media. Disability researchers working in the region completed 87 questionnaires, which were reviewed through a thematic analysis. Results: The discussion of results provides a consideration of definitions of disability; the understanding of disability rights, research topics and methodologies; the participation of people with disabilities in research; and the challenges and opportunities for using research to inform disability activism. Conclusion: The conclusion highlights critical issues for future research in the region, and considers how a disability researcher database can be used as a tool for disability organisations to prioritise research that serves a disability rights agenda.

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