DRILL hands out another £1 million in funding for disabled-led research

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A two-year scheme to set up a pan-disability product review website is one of 11 disabled-led research projects that have been awarded a total of £1 million in funding.

The Rate It! project will be co-produced by three disabled led organisations, Research Institute for Consumer Affairs, Leicestershire Centre for Integrated Living (LCiL) and Enabled by Design, and will be advised by the consumer organisation Which!

The website will help disabled consumers make “informed choices” about independent living products, with the hope that the reviews will also help build the understanding of retailers and manufacturers.

Rate It! will receive nearly £150,000 from DRILL (Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning), a £5 million research programme funded by the Big Lottery Fund, and delivered by Disability Rights UK (DR UK), Disability Action (in Northern Ireland), Inclusion Scotland and Disability Wales.

DRILL has also announced 10 other projects across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that have been handed funding in the latest tranche of awards for the five-year programme.

Every one of the participants in a two-year University of Glasgow project to examine the barriers faced by autistic people, which receives £100,000 DRILL funding, are autistic people themselves.

Another scheme funded by DRILL will see Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living, Independent Living in Scotland, the Scottish Independent Living Coalition, and the University of Stirling receive more than £90,000 to examine the costs and benefits of good self-directed support.

Disability Sheffield is involved in a seven-month project to explore employers’ perceptions about the workplace barriers faced by disabled people, while another research project, which involves disabled parents working with the University of Bedfordshire, will develop solutions to keep families involving disabled parents together and challenge the assumption that having an impairment has a negative impact on your child’s well-being.

Another DRILL-funded scheme will see Wiltshire Centre for Independent Living leading on an 18-month project to “explore the transition from childhood to adulthood for disabled young people”.

And the Legally Disabled? project, based in Cardiff but covering England as well as Wales, will examine the barriers faced by disabled people in the legal profession, and has been awarded nearly £90,000 of DRILL funding.

Rhian Davies (pictured), chief executive of Disability Wales, which is supporting DRILL projects in Wales, said: “We’re delighted to be announcing this DRILL grant, and supporting a project run by disabled people about disability issues.

“This goes a long way to addressing the gaps in evidence which is needed to create lasting change for disabled people.”

Dr Debbie Foster, of Cardiff Business School, who is managing the Legally Disabled? project, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to conduct research with disabled people in the legal profession.

“Too often it is assumed that disabled people only work in low-skilled jobs and are not qualified to work in our top professions. 

“This research seeks to challenge such stereotypes by highlighting the contribution of disabled people in law and through identifying both the barriers that they continue to face and potential solutions.”

Professor Tom Shakespeare, who chairs the DRILL central research committee, said: “The research committee are delighted to be able to support work about adapted housing, autism, young disabled people, disabled parents and other important issues, from all parts of the United Kingdom.

“It’s particularly rewarding to see the strong new relationships which are emerging between disabled people’s organisations and university researchers.”

DRILL is believed to be the world’s first major research programme led by disabled people, and should eventually fund about 40 pieces of research and pilot projects.

This week, it also issued a call for new bids for another £1 million in funding, with a deadline for applications of 8 August.

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