People with intellectual disabilities research Covid-19 experiences

14 Sep, 2020

PEOPLE with intellectual disabilities have been hit hard by the closure of their day services and workplaces during the Covid-19 crisis.

They believe that information about the disease and how to prevent its spread needs to be more widely available in picture-based, Easy-to-Read form. 

Those are some of the findings of new research conducted by and with people with intellectual disabilities and published today by Inclusion Ireland and Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin). 

“This report is fantastic, as the report and project were done and powered by people with disabilities,” researcher and author Tomás Murphy said. 

Murphy and co-authors Margaret Turley and Chris Byrne designed the research and conducted Zoom interviews during the summer with 11 adults who have intellectual disabilities. 

The 20-page report, ‘The Experiences of Adults with Intellectual Disabilities in Ireland During the Covid-19 Crisis’, includes sections on work, social life, independence, boredom and information, with featured quotes from all 11 participants. 

Murphy, Turley and Byrne were part of the team that produced last year’s widely publicised report on ‘short school days’ for children with disabilities, funded by the Irish Research Council, with authors from TU Dublin Deborah Brennan and Harry Browne. 

For the latest research on Covid-19, Dr Browne and Nóirín Clancy from Inclusion Ireland helped with making contacts, recording interviews and editing the report.  

Based on their research, the authors argue that people with disabilities must be allowed to play a more active role in decisions affecting their lives, as the Covid-19 crisis continues. 

They point out the particular needs of people with disabilities in returning to workplaces affected by Covid-19, and call for better, clearer information about the crisis – and especially about mask-wearing.  

Article 11 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states that nations must look after people with disabilities in “situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies”. Ireland is to report this year on its compliance with the convention.  

While the report focuses on how the Covid-19 crisis affects adults with disabilities, the participants shared a mix of fear, confusion, curiosity, frustration, isolation, leisure, boredom and empathy that will be familiar to most readers who have lived through the last six months. 

A video showing the research in action is available on Inclusion Ireland’s YouTube page and the report can be read Inclusion Ireland and TU Dublin Covid Disability Report .