One of the most interesting and rewarding projects I’ve ever completed was conducting an impact evaluation of the Unlimited Commissions Programme for disabled artists.

Between July and November 2015, my co-researcher Morwenna Collett and I immersed ourselves in the UK arts and disability world, to learn the language, issues and challenges that disabled artists face, and answer the question ‘Is Unlimited making a difference?’

We gathered rich data from over 135 people – approximately 50% of whom identified as disabled – and the insights were fascinating. Meeting the access requirements of the research participants was challenging – but hugely rewarding, both for the research and on a personal level.

I learned the nuances of disability identity, and language that is inclusive and respectful. I learned how to write a survey that is suitable for those with visual impairment, and discovered interview venues that were physically accessible. But the biggest thing I learned was that accessibility is more than all of these things put together. It’s about having an attitude of inclusion and committing to reach out and hear voices that are too often excluded.

Today Morwenna and I are presenting a paper at the ACSPRI Social Science Methodology conference, to share our thoughts about what it means for evaluation practice to be truly accessible. You can read our abstract here (or get in touch and we’ll send you a copy of the full paper).

Providing access doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Below we’ve assembled a list of access tips, facts and figures, and guidelines for doing research with people with disability.

One thing we want to get feedback on is our Access Statement for researchers and consultants. We used it at the beginning of the project to set the intention for the project, and plan what we would do to maximise access at every stage of the research (not just the outputs!).

It got us thinking… could something like this be useful for other researchers and consultants? Could it help others embed an attitude of inclusion upfront, and design research that was more accessible?

We’d love to hear your thoughts, so take a look and let us know what you think.



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About the Author

Tandi Williams
Managing Director

Patternmakers’ Founder and Managing Director Tandi Williams is an experienced consultant and arts and culture research specialist.