Big Society, Disability and Civil Society Research

Website for ESRC research project 'Big Society? Disabled People with Learning Disabilities and Civil Society'

Big Society on Tour – Malaysia

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Why Malaysia?

This week four members of the Big Society research team, Dan Goodley, The University of Sheffield, Katherine Runswick-Cole, Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), Rebecca Lawthom, MMU, and Keith Bates, Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, are travelling to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to talk about the Big Society project. As readers of the blog will know, the project is asking how people with learning disabilities are faring in a time of austerity in the UK, so why did we decide to come to Malaysia to share our findings?

  1. The Malaysian Context

In the Government adopted the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 and provides social protection services in areas such as health, rehabilitation and education for disabled children guided by the National Policy for Persons with Disabilities and the National Plan of Action for Persons with Disabilities. Malaysia also ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2010. The government has made a commitment to improving services and support, especially for children in schools

  1. Long standing connections with Malaysia

Members of the team have already worked with colleagues in Malaysia in the past. They have shared their work on self-advocacy and community psychology in collaboration with organisations in Penang , Kuala Lumpur , Kota Kinabalu, Kuching and Penang.   The team has good relationships with United Voice (, a self-advocacy organization for people with learning disabilities in Malaysia. Members of the team were involved with the first national seminar on self-advocacy held in Malaysia in 2007 ( and worked on a collaborative research project with researchers from Kuching and Kuala Lumpur (as well as the UK and Zimbabwe) in 2008-2010 ( Through those long-standing relationships, while in Malaysia, the team is able to meet up with disabled people, family members, practitioners, academics, activists and policy makers in Malaysia to share pan-national examples of good practice in relation to self-advocacy, employment and independent living. Our work with Malaysian colleagues over the next week seeks to share and develop ideas around these key elements of civil society in order to challenge disablism and promote community inclusion of people with the label of learning disabilities.

  1. Shared interest in employment, advocacy and community living.

Our Malaysian partners and the project team share an interest in the three strands of the Big Society project: self-advocacy, employment. In sharing our research findings, we are hoping to learn from the Malaysian experience and to reflect on practice and policy in the UK. Over the next few days, we’ll be posting about our experiences in Malaysia and reflecting on what we’ve learned.

We can also be contacted via email: Dan Goodley Katherine Runswick-Cole Keith Bates


Author: Katherine RC

Katherine is Research Fellow in Disability Studies and Psychology at the Research Institute for Health and Social Change at Manchester Metropolitan University

One thought on “Big Society on Tour – Malaysia

  1. Pingback: Research Projects | School of Education Alumni News

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