Community Action Research in Disability (CARD): An inclusive research programme in Uganda

Sally Hartley, Aisha Yousafzai, Maria Goretti Kaahwa, Harry Finkenflugel, Angie Wade, Janet Seeley, Maria de Lourdes Drachler, George Bazirake, Yasmine Alavi, Eric Mucurnguzi, Nyamutale Winifred Mataze


The ideology of Emancipatory Disability Research (EDR) reflected in the phrase ‘Nothing about us without us’, was first put forward in the 1990s. Although it aimed to place research control in the hands of the ‘researched’, i.e., people with disability, this rarely happens even today, 25 years later.

The Community Action Research on Disability (CARD) programme in Uganda embraced and modified the EDR approach, recognising the need for including people with disability in the research process from concept to outcome, and nurturing participation and collaboration between all the stakeholders in achieving action-based research. The research teams always included people with disability and staff from Disability People’s Organisations (DPOs) as well as academics and service providers. It endeavoured to generate and carry out research around issues that mattered to people with disability and their families. Leadership roles were assigned by team members. The objectives of the CARD programme were: (1) to fund teams to carry out action-based research on disability in Uganda; (2) to develop research and administrative capacity to manage the initiative within the academic registrar’s office at Kyambogo University; (3) to incorporate new knowledge generated from the studies into the ongoing local community-based rehabilitation and special education courses; and, (4) to ensure wide dissemination of research findings to all stakeholder groups.

CARD ran for 5 years, commissioning 21 action research studies in the field of disability and community-based services. This paper describes the process, presents the 12 completed studies, examines the extent to which the objectives were achieved and evaluates the experiences of the participating research teams, particularly in relation to the inclusion of its members with disability. It concludes with recommendations for future initiatives designed to promote validity, good value and inclusive approaches in disability research.



Action research; emancipatory research; disability research; capacity development in research; inclusion

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