UCC researchers examine impact of Covid restrictions on young people with disabilities

Researchers hope to contribute to national debates on how best to promote inclusive learning in the future
UCC researchers examine impact of Covid restrictions on young people with disabilities

Lead researcher Dr Claire Edwards hopes the project will develop valuable insights into how to create a better society for all. File Picture

Researchers at University College Cork (UCC) are studying how Covid-19 public health restrictions have impacted the lives of young people with disabilities.

Figures show that people with disabilities aged 20-64 are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as their able-bodied counterparts (26.5% vs 11.5%, according to the 2016 census). This issue of underrepresentation has likely been exacerbated by the pandemic.

Now, a team of researchers from UCC is hoping to find out what lessons educators can learn from how the pandemic has affected people with disabilities.

‘Learning Disrupted’, a new research partnership between the National Learning Network (NLN) Cork, researchers from ISS21 (Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century) and Dr Claire Edwards and Dr Gill Harold from UCC’s School of Applied Social Studies, will look at young people with disabilities' experience of and access to skills training and work placements.

The partnership will focus specifically on 18 to 25-year olds.

The group was recently awarded €12,000 in funding from the Irish Research Council, as part of its New Foundations Scheme.

Focus groups, letters from affected students and interviews with educators will all inform the research.

The group hopes to contribute to national debates on how best to promote inclusive learning in the future.

Lead researcher Dr Claire Edwards hopes the project will develop valuable insights into how to create a better society for all.

“By engaging with young people, their families, National Learning Network staff and employers, the research will explore not just the effects of the pandemic on young people’s lives, but the potential of future learning and training strategies — including remote learning — to support people with disabilities' participation in education, employment, and ultimately, society,” she said.

Findings from the 'Learning Disrupted''s research are expected by the end of this year.

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