My primary research interests are in disability studies, medical sociology, and in social and ethical aspects of genetics. I have had a long involvement with the disabled people’s movement in UK and internationally. In the context of disability arts, I have also been active in arts and culture, and was a member of Arts Council England from 2003-2008. While at Newcastle University, I developed an interest in science communication and public engagement, and helped develop the café scientifique movement in UK and across the world, as well as promoting sci-art projects. During my five years at WHO, I helped produce and launch key reports such as the World Report on Disability (WHO 2011) and International Perspectives on Spinal Cord Injury (WHO 2013), and was responsible for the UN statement on forced, coerced and otherwise involuntary sterilization (WHO 2014). This grew my interest in disability and international development.
My primary focus is qualitative research about the lives of disabled people and the barriers that they face. I have led projects about disability and sexuality, life as a disabled child, quality of life in restricted growth. I am currently working on an ESRC funded project on social relationships in personal assistance, and on an ESRC/DFID funded project on the disability and development gap. In recent years, I have also led several small research projects on aspects of mental health recovery and wellbeing. My secondary interest is social and ethical aspects of genetics and bioethics. I have led projects about how people make ethical decisions, and about the provision of balanced information in antenatal screening. I have written books on disability and sexuality, relational approaches to disability, and genetic politics. In future, I hope to develop further work exploring disability as an international development issue, with particular emphasis on barriers to healthcare.