The PROUD Project
The Phenomenological Research/Remedies on Employment & Disability (PROUD) Project is a multi-year research initiative studying disability and employment. The study compares the experiences of disabled employees, employers who hire people with disabilities, and their coworkers, across five countries: Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Belgium.
By Andrea Whiteley, PhD.
There is an accessible and downloadable PDF version of this blog post at the end of the text.
The PROUD team is extremely “proud” of our podcast Broadcastability. We finished production in May, creating 8 podcasts with some of our Canadian research participants as well as our with our research partner, Easter Seals Canada. These podcasts have had over 500 downloads. Transcripts of the podcasts will be translated into English and French. We have been promoting the podcasts over social media as well and have put a lot of work into our social media promotion for the PROUD Project in general. We hope to secure more financial support down the road to continue producing podcasts with participants from the other countries where we conducted research.
Chloë has published research several articles during the last few months, in the area of medical ethics and disability including: “An Ethical Analysis of Clinical Triage Protocols and Decision-making Frameworks: What do Principles of Justice, Freedom and a Disability Rights Approach Demand of Us?” and “What Should Clinicians and Patients Know About the Clinical Gaze, Disability, and Iatrogenic Harm When Making Decisions?” The latter article has also been featured in a podcast by the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics. Chloe has just submitted a chapter for a book on scholars with disabilities in the workplace which will be published next year.
Over the past few months, the research team has made presentations at various conferences and to groups interested in our research. In May, Andrea was a guest lecturer for the Masters of Communications Technology Spring Institute at the University of Alberta. The lecture was on “Doing research with vulnerable populations.” Andrea also created a virtual conference poster presentation for the Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity, at The Center on Disability Studies, College of Education, University of Hawai’i at Manoa.
This poster reported on the results of a literature review, entitled “Technological exclusion: How research tools exclude disability perspectives in disability and employment research.” This was a virtual conference so we didn’t actually get to go to Hawaii, unfortunately! Andrea also co-presented at a workshop on equity, diversity and inclusion at UTSC entitled “EDI in Assignment and Course Design – Part 2: Design to hear students’ voices.” This webinar was hosted by the Centre for Teaching and Learning at the University of Toronto Scarborough.
Andrea and Chloe (with Brenna Leslie) are also submitting two articles for publication, reporting on the literature review they conducted in the area of disability and employment. Stay tuned for publication details for “A comprehensive literature review of disability and employment scholarship using the Web of Science” and “Implicit expert bias in the Web of Science database in the area of disability and employment research: when research tools exclude disability perspectives.”
The PROUD Project research team has been pushing forward to finish gathering data from employees and employers in Canada, the US, the UK, France and Belgium. While the Canadian interviews are complete, we have had great success recruiting participants in the US and France and have almost achieved our research goals in these countries. Over the next month we hope to finish interviewing in the UK and Belgium, in order to continue with our analysis in the last phase of the project. To date we have interviewed over 60 employees and employers about their workplace experiences.
The data we have collected about the varied working experiences, workplace cultures, and government supports at play in each country will result in a rich description of the disability and employment landscape. We have found that each country’s approach to people with disabilities in the workforce as well as attitudes are very different. The goal of this research is to provide recommendations and best practices for employers, policy makers, and the disability community, about how to create a better workplace environment and experience for people with disabilities, drawing from successful approaches and models.
The PROUD Project has benefited greatly from our amazing student hires who have helped us achieve our research and teaching goals. Over the last six months we have hired and trained four research assistants and one teaching assistant.
Isabelle Avakumovic-Pointon, a graduate student at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Ahad Alingary, a UTSC undergrad, assisted in the production and editing of the
“Broadcastability” podcasts, updated our PROUD website, and created social media posts, including Tiktok videos and Instagram reels, to promote the podcasts and assist with research recruiting. Isabelle has also been participating in French and Belgian research interviews and helping translate documents and transcripts into French.
Rachael Desborough, a political science doctoral candidate, is compiling a report on government policies and funding supports for people with disabilities in the countries where we are carrying out our research.
Caroline Cassinelli, graduate student at HMKW University, also has video production experience and is closely connect with the d/Deaf community in the U.S. She assisted Andrea with recruiting participants in the U.S., posting to our social media accounts, and editing transcriptions from research interviews.
Tania Ruiz-Chapman, an Ontario Institute for Studies in Education doctoral candidate, was the teaching assistant for the Health and Society course taught in the Winter 2022 Semester. She trained Andrea on how to use Quercus for online teaching, looked after the video technology during classes, and is now working with Andrea to write a research article on their experiences.
Chloë and Andrea are so grateful for the excellent assistance and experience that the students have brought to the team and have really enjoyed working with everyone.
In the Winter 2022 Semester, Chloë and Andrea taught a fourth year undergraduate course entitled, “Research Methodology and the Ethics of Working with Disabled, d/Deaf People and Other Vulnerable Groups” offered to students in the Health and Society Department at UTSC.
Andrea and Chloë collaborated with three scholars at the University of Manchester: Professor Alys Young, Dr. Katherine Rogers, and Dr. Emma Ferguson Coleman. Emma and Katie are deaf, and used British Sign Language interpreters during the lectures. Andrea was the instructor of record for this course and created the syllabus, reading list, course description, curriculum, and Quercus site for the course. Andrea also made course materials accessible for screen readers, and negotiated the use of the Catalyst Centre at UTSC for the delivery of this course.
This course was an amazing experience for the instructional team and students alike. We received a great deal of positive feedback from students who took this course, and are very excited to have forged a strong relationship with our colleagues at the University of Manchester.
The research team was able to secure funding to support students this year thanks to the Career Ready/Technation Student Employment Grant that allowed us to hire Isabelle, as well as a Teaching Enhancement Grant from UTSC that Andrea wrote to hire Tania, our teaching assistant for the course we taught this semester.
Thank-you to all our funders and supporters!