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Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research Goes Open Access!

Simo Vehmas, President of NNDR,

Fom the beginning of 2018, Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research (SJDR) will be published with an Open access license by Stockholm University Press. This means that all the material in the journal can be downloaded for free and shared with colleagues without restrictions. The whole previous archive of SJDR with its 18 volumes will be made available free of charge as well. The entire journal content will thus become available to anyone with an access to internet. As the NNDR board and the Editors are already working hard with the transition to a new publisher, we’d like to announce the change now to open up for comments.

The journal will be a truly open publication because we have chosen the strategy to not charge the authors of publishing their material in SJDR. All the costs will be covered by NNDR. And now you’re thinking: there’s a catch, isn’t there? Yes, there is. It’s called Nordic social democracy. Continue reading

“I’m proud to be intellectually disabled, but I’d still like to learn how to read”

Professori Simo Vehmas 1.8.2013

Simo Vehmas, Professor of Disability Studies, University of Helsinki, President of NNDR,,

I read recently a fascinating paper about the self-advocacy of young people with intellectual disability in Sweden by Magnus Tideman and Ove Svensson (Tideman & Svensson 2015). The findings of their study touch upon various contentious issues in disability studies such as the meaning of autonomy and independence, identity politics, and whether justice for disabled people is mainly a matter of distribution of goods or recognition of their equal worth.

Respect for self-determination and social justice seem to go hand in hand despite the fact that some impairments do pose a challenge for reconciling these two. What Tideman’s and Svensson’s paper highlights so well is the difficulty of “finding the right balance between giving an individual responsibility and independence and at the same time providing him or her with an adequate amount of help and support” (Tideman & Svensson 2015, 6). Providing disabled people with equal opportunities for autonomy and independence has always been important to disability movement despite the contested and ambiguous nature of the concept “autonomy”. The importance of disability identity is also contentious: some think that identification on the basis of impairment and discrimination to a disabled collective results in labeling and further discrimination rather than to empowerment and justice (e.g. Shakespeare 2006, ch. 5). Continue reading

Making Space: Exploring Intimate Citizenship in the lives of people labeled with learning disabilities

Jodie Bradley*, Vicky Farnsworth*, Annie Ferguson*, Hayley Wilcock*, Dan Goodley**, Kirsty Liddiard** and Katherine Runswick-Cole***

* Speak Up Self-Advocacy
** The University of Sheffield
*** Manchester Metropolitan University

In September 2015, we travelled to Toronto, Canada to take part in a workshop exploring intimate citizenship in the lives of people labeled with learning disabilities. Continue reading

Ad hominem is a fallacy, but not in disability studies?

simo-vehmas_mediumSimo Vehmas, Professor of Disability Studies, University of Helsinki, President of NNDR,,

I have been often asked why as a nondisabled person I’m interested in disability. Some ask the question because they assume that interest in disability requires a personal experience of impairment, and some because they doubt the credibility of an academic who lacks the personal experience of disablement. Whatever the reasons are, my answer lately to the question has been: “What makes you think that I’m not disabled?”

Obviously, it is because I’m socially privileged, but it is also because I don’t have a visible impairment. I do, however, have tinnitus, sleeping apnea and an unspecified arthritis of some sort. They’re all impairments, aren’t they? You may, however, think that these conditions are so minor that they’re not proper impairments and, as a result, my disability credibility is null. You might not say this to me in public because it would be politically incorrect, but, in my experience, most people (irrespective of their disability identity) do think along these lines. Continue reading


McConnellDavid McConnell, PhD, Professor and Director, Family and Disability Studies Initiative, University of Alberta,

Researchers have focused a great deal of attention on family adjustment and adaptation to children with disabilities. The traditional and still dominant approach to research in this field starts out with the assumption that having a child with disabilities is a ‘disturbance’ or ‘perturbation’, and then focuses on stress and coping processes, and what are usually presumed to be ‘outcomes’ for other family members. Many studies have investigated stress and psychopathology among mothers [and to a far lesser extent, fathers and siblings] of children with disabilities, the stress-buffering role of social support, and the utility of various coping strategies. This research has had a number of positive impacts. It has, for instance, helped justify services such as early intervention, in-home help, psycho-educational programs for parents and respite care. Continue reading