U-LEAD - University of Leeds East Asia Disability Rights Forum

U-Lead is a brand new initiative which aims to develop  participatory research on disability in East Asia. During 2018 – 20 this project focuses on the Chinese-speaking region of China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, a part of the world which is home to about 1.4 billion people – or a fifth of all humanity - at least 6% of whom are disabled. Despite China’s active engagement in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and significant changes in attitudes towards disabled people throughout this region, most disability research in East Asia is conducted without the involvement of disabled people.

U-Lead draws on traditions of participatory and emancipatory research that have informed disability research at the  Centre for Disability Studies (CDS) for the past few decades. It  aims to generate a body of research conducted by people in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong who have lived experience of disability. Activities focus on an annual U-Lead Forum, to be held at a university in the region, at which researchers will be able to present and discuss work in progress. Researchers - many of whom may have no academic background - will be given both mentoring and financial assistance to conduct small research projects on one of three annual themes:

 Year 1: work and employment

Year 2: Legal capacity and personhood

Year 3: Education

Research will be conducted using a variety of methods and yield a range of different types of output. The research findings will be published on a range of local and international platforms, including academic journals and social media. Through this research, and  engagement with stakeholders, the ambition is to energise educators, employers, legal professionals, policy makers and others to work creatively with disabled people to challenge and reduce ongoing exclusion.

U-LEAD’s project manager is Stephen Hallett, to whom any inquiries should be directed: s.hallett@leeds.ac.uk.