How do People with Learning Disabilities Understand Citizen Inquiry?

Carr, Jessica (2018). How do People with Learning Disabilities Understand Citizen Inquiry? MRes thesis The Open University.



One question often asked is whether people with learning disabilities are regularly excluded from decision-making processes which may have a direct impact on them. This study uses citizen inquiry research methodologies to engage adults with learning disabilities in scientific inquiry through the use of participatory research approaches. It is aimed at learning how people with learning disabilities understand citizen inquiry and what levels of support are required for future work in this area. A group of six participants, from the Monday night social group at Yellow Submarine Charity (, engaged in a citizen inquiry project run over four 1 hour sessions. The sessions were aimed at gaining data on how the participants understood citizen inquiry through ethnographically-informed observation and a focus group. Through the analysis of the data, I found that participants understood citizen inquiry in two ways; what they believe a citizen to be and how the project made them feel. Often, the participant’s responses were positive in nature but identified a need for future research into their understanding of citizen inquiry. Whilst people with learning disabilities are routinely excluded from decision-making processes, the inclusive nature of this research and the way in which citizen inquiry works allowed for the participants to have a positive experience whilst gaining autonomy in their decision-making

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