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Disability Studies conference a first for New Zealand

Inside the Library

Monday 31 October 2011 8:46am

At the end of November the University of Otago hosts New Zealand’s first major conference focused on Disability Studies, Every Body In.

The event, which runs from 27 to 30 November, aims to provide a forum for people with diverse life experiences and from different professions, academic disciplines, government, business, community organisations and the education, legal and healthcare sectors to share their knowledge and research.

It has attracted speakers and delegates from around the world, including a keynote presentation and public lecture from geneticist, sociologist, bioethicist and WHO advisor Tom Shakespeare. Other presenters include Professor Patricia O’Brien from the Royal Rehabilitation Centre in Sydney, Paul Gibson, newly appointed Disability Commissioner, and members of various disability self-advocacy groups.

Co-convenors Dr Gill Rutherford and Donna-Rose McKay expect the conference will draw attention to the growing international interest in Disability Studies and the far-reaching benefits for society of inclusive practices.

More than 90 papers will be presented at the conference by New Zealand and international speakers, to a range of local and overseas delegates. The volume and standard of papers submitted exceeded expectations so much, Ms McKay says, that the programme extends across five streams.

Indeed the diversity of the programme – which includes a panel discussion on accessible tourism, a paper on the economic benefits of inclusive employment practices, and numerous education presentations involving students, teachers and others working in the educational sector – reflects the interdisciplinary nature of Disability Studies and the way in which disability issues touch on every aspect of life.

Ms McKay hopes that the conference will be the first step towards the establishment of a Centre for Disability Research and Teaching at Otago. In the meantime, she is continuing to seek sponsorship funds to support members of the disability community to participate in the conference.

“It’s called Every Body In because everybody has a part to play in ensuring that every member of society is treated equitably and with respect – that every body matters.”

For more information

For more information about ‘Every Body In’ visit:

For media comment please contact:

Dr Gill Rutherford
Senior Lecturer, Education and Disability Studies
University of Otago College of Education
Tel 64 3 479 3804

Donna-Rose McKay,
Head of Disability Information and Support Services
University of Otago
Tel 64 3 479 8245


A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

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