For educational researchers the BERA Annual Conference is an important date in their professional year. It provides the opportunity to network, share ideas and learn about different research projects.
On Wednesday 13 September a group of UEL colleagues attended this year’s BERA (British Educational Resource Association) conference in Birmingham having been invited to run a workshop on the theme of inclusive research.
Gosia and Ajay from the Rix Inclusive Research Institute were joined by UEL colleagues, Paul Watts (Bio-Sciences) and Janet Hoskin (Education), and UEL students, Radhika Upadhyay and Emma Tapley. They have been working together, alongside Rix co-researchers, on the ELISA project researching digital financial inclusion. ELISA stands for East London Impact Scholar Award.
The ELISA project has brought together academics, students and people with learning disabilities to research the cashless society and its associated challenges for the digitally excluded. The research methods used by Rix allow for all abilities and ensure that everyone can take part and is valued as a co-researcher. Moreover, linking research with coursework helps students learn about inclusion and reasonable adjustments.
The ELISA project wiki is an accessible multimedia project plan that helps co-researchers with understanding and recall. The wiki can be used for presentations and also functions as an engaging representation of research methods.
Comments from UEL participants
Inclusive research is the cornerstone of our Rix Inclusive Research Institute where every voice matters, regardless of the challenges one faces. It is a powerful beacon illuminating the path towards understanding, empathy, and progress. In the workshop, ‘Conducting Inclusive Research with People with Learning Disabilities and HE Students’, we celebrated the essence of inclusivity, recognising that embracing diverse perspectives enriches our knowledge. Inclusivity in research removes barriers, ensuring that the invaluable insights of individuals with learning disabilities are not only heard but also respected and acted upon. It acknowledges the inherent worth of every individual, fostering an environment where differences are not just tolerated but cherished and celebrated.
During our interactive sessions, we delved into innovative ideas and methodologies, exploring collaborative approaches that bridge the gap between academia and lived experience. From co-designing research frameworks to employing adaptive technologies such as Rix Multi Me software, the workshop was full of ideas and lively discussions. We recognised that empowering individuals with learning disabilities and engaging them as active participants in research processes not only amplifies their voices but also leads to more nuanced and holistic outcomes.
Gosia Kwiatkowska, Rix Director and Senior Lecturer
The BERA Conference is a key education research event in the academic year, and it was fantastic to share our inclusive research about digital financial inclusion with other academics and practitioners from across the UK. It was fabulous to hear our students and one of our co-researchers with a learning disability share their experience of the project with an academic audience, as well as talk about our research findings. It is so important to create discussion within the academy about the necessity of including people with lived experience of disability in the research process.
Dr Janet Hoskin, Associate Professor of Education, UEL
As public health academics, we often talk about the importance of inclusive research. However, opportunities to conduct this type of research are rare, so I welcomed the opportunity to involve myself and students in this research with people with learning disabilities. As well as the inclusive research process being important, the topic of digital financial inclusion is also highly relevant to public health given what is known about the relationship between finances, independence, and health.
Paul Watts, Senior Lecturer in Public Health, UEL
Thank you Rix Centre for providing a wonderful opportunity to present at a national conference. Taking part in this research project helped me to see Public Health in the real world. Hearing different experts’ opinions on digital finance, and the challenges ahead if we are to make this more inclusive, was incredibly interesting and enlightening.
Dr Radhika Upadhyay, MSc Public Health student
I am passionate about accessibility and digital inclusion and was excited about the oppoprtunity to speak at the BERA conference in Birmingham. I spoke about running inclusive research workshops and using the ELISA project Wiki to keep a record of everything and share resources.
Ajay Choksi, Rix Technical & Research Assistant, WIKI Master
At its core, inclusive research is a testament to our commitment to equality, compassion, and the relentless pursuit of a world where everyone’s story is acknowledged and valued. By involving people with lived experiences in research, we not only honour their narratives but also pave the way for a future built on empathy, understanding, and a profound respect for the dignity of every human being.