Debating dis/ability: iHuman and the School of Education at the University of Oslo

By June 8, 2017 No Comments

Disability studies research of iHuman and the School of Education was recently represented at an event hosted by the Department of Special Needs Education at the University of Oslo, Norway, 7th June 2017. Dan Goodley was invited to debate the role of disability categories and the global epidemic of childhood diagnosis with Professor Simo Vehmas (Stockholm University, Sweden) chaired by Professor Jan Grue, (University of Oslo). Professor Goodley told us:

Professor Grue’s kind invitation allowed colleagues from the Universities of Sheffield, Oslo and Stockholm to debate the implications of the global diagnosis of disability.

While there were differences of opinion expressed about the aetiologies of disability and impairment, there was also a consensus around the urgent need to investigate why so many children and young people are being caught up in an ever-growing whirlpool of disability diagnoses.

The proliferation of disability categories emerges at exactly the same time as the human category is being enlarged through the use of technology, enhanced and therapy. In short, people are being labeled as disabled or seeking to become more enabled through technology. It would seem that we live in dis/ability times where either side of the dis/ability coin is being ever more expanded.

The public debate, which included a number of discussants and respondents, drew in a mixed audience of research and practitioners. Space was also found in the itinerary for Dan to hold meetings with Norwegian colleagues to share emerging theoretical developments from two research projects:

The Biopolitics of Disability, Illness, and Animality: Cultural Representations and Societal Significance” (BIODIAL) at the University of Oslo, led by Jan Grue and Michael Lundblad (

Life, Death, Disability and the Human: Living Life to the Fullest – a flagship project of iHuman, led by Kirsty Liddiard and Dan Goodley, University of Sheffield (

For more information on Professor Grue’s work please visit: