Conducting qualitative research with people with learning, communication and other disabilities: methodological challenges National Centre for Research Methods 24pp.
(ESRC National Centre for Research Methods Review Paper, NCRM/012).
This methodological paper reviews the research literature and discusses the issues that arise in conducting qualitative research with people for whom traditional methods of qualitative research might present challenges for researchers. The focus is on children and adults with learning difficulties, communication difficulties or other disabilities such as autism with associated complex challenges in communicating, understanding and taking part in qualitative research. The paper’s structure follows the stages of conducting research and includes design, ethics, data collection, analysis and reporting. Both methodological challenges in common with researching other groups (including other so-called vulnerable groups, minority groups and hard to reach groups as well as mainstream participants) and those unique to research with this disabled group are addressed, culminating in guidance for researchers on methods, approaches and key issues. Recurrent themes include: techniques for communicating abstract ideas to participants, enabling participants to express their views and tell of their experiences, ways of acting responsibly and ways of acting inclusively. The review illuminates some of developments in what can be achieved in research with people with learning and communication difficulties and some of limitations in what has been managed to date. The review was commissioned by NCRM in 2008.
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