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The importance of looking across the life course

In this video, Eric Emerson and Iva Strnadova explain why it's important to understand how disability works across the life course.

In this video, Eric Emerson and Iva Strnadová explain why the life course is important, particularly for people with disabilities.

Without including the whole life span, disability studies misses out on how different times, places and relationships impact on people with different impairments. In the video, Eric stresses how experiences in childhood are critical for laying foundations for future health and well-being. Iva extends these ideas, saying that a life span approach not only bridges one’s present with one’s past, but also aids in planning for their future. In her work, she has discovered how important it is for people with disabilities to have support through their different life transitions, and to be included in the planning of these transitions.

In our interview with Gwynnyth Llewellyn, she described some examples of how disability can intersect with life course. This audio clip and transcript are provided in the downloads below.

Talking points

  • Eric connects certain circumstances in childhood — namely poverty and exposure to violence and bullying — to poorer health and wellbeing in adulthood. Can you think of any other ways in which the circumstances of people with disabilities might be influenced across different phases of the life course?
  • What does a life course approach mean when thinking about how we might enable a good live for people with disabilities?

Mark Preistley was one of the first academics to emphasise the importance of applying a life course approach to disability. He argued that disability studies needed to expand its focus out from the concerns of adults of working age and look more closely at children, adolescence and those who are ageing.

Extend your knowledge — We look more closely at Mark Preistley’s justification for a life course approach in Step 4.12: The making of an adult.

Next, we will focus in on several stages of the life course and explore — together with our life story participants — how these stages intersect with disability.

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Disability and a Good Life: Thinking through Disability

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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