Imagining different futures with disabled young people

Imagine no one ever asking what your hopes, dreams, ambitions and fears are? Imagine being a twenty-four year old young woman and no one has asked you how you feel? Perhaps you can’t imagine.

But disabled young people with life-limiting and life-threatening impairments tell us that this is their lived experience. A focus on medical interventions and social care means that the young person’s feelings are lost. It is important, of course, to focus on the practicalities of young people’s lives, but sometimes this means that many of the aspects of what it means to live well are ignored.

Disabled young people tell us that they face the challenges of living with impairments but that their lives are limited by other people’s failure to see the person. They want people around them to understand that they have hopes, dreams and ambitions and that they can and do live full lives.

On 6th November, as part of the Economic and Social Science Festival in Sheffield, The School of Education and iHuman Sheffield hosted an event at which Sally Whitney and Emma Vogelmann spoke about their experiences disabled young researchers. They are part of a co-researcher collective at the University of Sheffield which is exploring the lives of young people with life-limiting and life-threatening impairments as part of an Economic and Social Research Council funded project Living Life to the Fullest: life, death, disability and the Human. Working with Katy Evans, Lucy Watts MBE, Carrie Aimes, and Ruth Spurr, Emma and Sally have been involved in research design, interviews and analysis and are co-authors of a peer-reviewed article for the academic journal Children & Society, alongside the university researchers Dr Kirsty Liddiard, Professor Dan Goodley and Professor Katherine Runswick-Cole.

The researchers made a short film screened at the event that describes what being involved in research means to them. You can watch the film here.

Sally and Katherine appeared on BBC Radio Sheffield after the event to talk about the discussion we had. You can listen here.

We would like to thank the co-researchers and everyone who came to the event and made such wonderful contributions to the discussion.

Busy room at the event

For more information about the project, contact:




Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s