Disabilities research and evaluation

The Director of Barefoot Research is a  wheelchair user and we are a disabled person led organisation. In our work, we use a Social Model of Disability as our frame of reference. By way of explanation, the understanding of disability has grown significantly since the 1980s when there was an almost blanket response of exclusion, pity and medical interventions. We now have a Social Model of Disability, which holds that people are disabled by society and less so by their impairments. The distinction is that impairment is the long term condition affecting the individual and it is society that disables through imposing limitations, barriers and problems to the individual. The social model thus understands disability to be more the result of physical and socio cultural barriers. When barriers are removed, many of the disabilities are removed.

Physical barriers that exclude people include non-level surfaces, including on transport, entrances and pavements, crowded seated areas and other structural barriers. Socio cultural barriers include the common views that disability is a personal tragedy for the individual, infused by pity, that they need assistance, help and charity. These and many more barriers are constantly keeping disabled people on an unequal and disadvantaged position in society, socially, economically and culturally. They are often excluded from public and professional spaces, self isolating as they are not able to resist the actions of others and the non disabled gaze, and the physical limitations of society.

We therefore see few disabled people in public or professional life as a result of these physical and socio cultural barriers and this needs to be addressed. The more we see disabled people at work and at play, the more these barriers will be broken down. It is the responsibility of every body, either non disabled or disabled, to do what they can to counter the imbalance and injustice. One way you can do this is by making sure disabled people are visible and prominent within or associated with your organisation.




"Barefoot did a fantatsic job of our evaluation. In particular, their approach to working with our service users was very impressive. The evaluation has answered many of our questions, but also asked us more, which gives us a great opportunity for the future."

Jayne Butler, Manager, The Comfrey Project

"As an organisation we felt that Barefoot did an excellent job of listening and understanding the needs of our review... We were thrilled with the final report; as well as being a very good read, the presentation and quality was excellent."

Cath Carnaby, Manager, Women's Health Advice Centre

"I am pleased with the honesty and thoroughness with which he (Christopher) dealt with the project. Thanks to the evaluation we now have a number of questions answered and a clear way forward."

Maureen Pearson, Area manager North East, Parentline Plus