National Disability Research Project
The National Disability Research Agenda is led by the University of Sydney, funded by the Commonwealth Government
Through Deakin University, Deaf Victoria was invited to collate data on the future of research related to deaf and hard of hearing people by leading community consultations around Australia, contributing to the development of the National Disability Research Agenda under the National Disability Research Partnership. The National Disability Research Partnership is led by the University of Melbourne, with the National Disability Research Agenda being led by the University of Sydney.
This was made possible through a partnership with Expression Australia (Victoria and Tasmania) and Deaf Australia through co-facilitation and feedback during the life of this project. Deaf Victoria also received in-kind support from other state based deaf societies including Deaf Services & The Deaf Society (Queensland, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, and Northern Territory); Deaf: Can Do (South Australia); AccessPlus (Western Australia) through advice, promotion and provision of venue for face-to-face community sessions.
During this project and our consultations with deaf and hard of hearing people across Australia, Deaf Victoria identified five priority areas where research needs to be undertaken. The priority areas are:
Overarching theme for all research: The need for deaf-led research
With much research conducted on deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind people that were led by researchers who do not have a lived experience in this area or identify as deaf or hard of hearing, the need for an increase in deaf-led research emerged strongly during consultations. Historically, deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind people do not learn of research projects until a project is well underway or after its completion. Research papers and resources are generally inaccessible to those who use Auslan as their first and/or preferred language. Organisations in the deaf sector are also impacted because they are unable to access data from completed research projects on or about deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind people. It is important to acknowledge that researchers with lived experience of deafness are recruited and empowered to be able to lead and support research on and about deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind people. This requires acknowledgement from government, funders, and academia more generally. This also means deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind people are to be given a leading seat at the table to advise on research being conducted related to their lived experience.
Priority 1: Data on or about deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind people
There is a clear need for more data to be collected on deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind people as organisations in the deaf sector do not have the capacity to access and/or collect data. With an increase in data from such projects, organisations in the deaf sector will be able to enhance their ability to provide interventions and supports for the deaf sector including the ability to quantify need for funding opportunities using statistics and evidence-based research to support their applications.
Priority 2: Health and the inaccessibility for deaf, hard of hearing people and deafblind people
There is a lack of peer-reviewed research into deaf people’s experience with accessing hospitals and health system, particularly with the state of health literacy in deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind people who use Auslan. Without research, it is difficult to measure improvements or decline in health literacy for deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind people. There is a need for partnership with universities, trusted deaf sector organisations and state health departments to collaborate on this issue to understand how to improve access to information around healthcare for the deaf sector.
Priority 3: Auslan workforce development
There is a need for further research into improving and expanding the workforce of Auslan teachers, Auslan interpreters, Teachers of the Deaf and so on as this has been raised by members of the deaf community who have expressed concerns about the declining quality of Auslan teaching and instruction in and via Auslan in schools, TAFEs and in the wider community.
Priority 4: Access to quality education and outcomes
Historically, research within the deaf education sector has been conducted by researchers who do not have a lived experience of deafness so there is a clear need for an increase in deaf-led research projects in education for deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind people. There is a lack of data on numbers of deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind children around Australia and their outcomes, as statistics often provided by departments of education are generalised with children with disability which makes it difficult to separate the data into specific groups, especially for deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind students.
Priority 5: Justice & human rights
Through a human rights approach and model of disability, research is needed to explore the rights of deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind people in Australia – particularly with the need to review the Disability Discrimination Act (Cth) and how the legislation affects deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind people in terms of access to communication and information. There is also a lack of research into access to justice for deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind people and how they access the justice system, particularly with reporting to the police including providing statements and going through the court system.
Project Lead – Sherrie Beaver
Project Sponsor – Maxine Buxton
Consultant – Dr Amie O’Shea, Deakin University
Facilitators – Stef Linder, Sam Martin, Bobbie Blackson, Darlene Thornton, Debra Swann, and Vanessa Alford.