Later edit: Please note that I have now finished interviewing. I am so grateful to all the people who were willing to be interviewed and share their stories with me. The results are on the way!
Although I can’t include absolutely everyone in my research, I’m making an attempt to make the research accessible to as many people as possible. I’m now moving away from discussion groups. Instead, I’m mainly interviewing people one-to-one, either in person or online. Here’s why.
Discussion groups have been a success for some people. The most frequent comment I’ve had, at the end of groups or in emails afterwards, is that people found it very useful to meet other people in similar situations to them – other disabled/chronically ill Christians. This has led to some great discussions, where people have felt comfortable enough to talk about their experiences of church and disability in groups. (We’ve also had some interesting small groups meeting over Skype.)
But there are people who would not be able to join discussion groups. Some people can’t travel, for disability or time/distance reasons, and people don’t always have access to reliable internet for Skype groups. Some participants, with impairments such as autism or mental health difficulties, would find meeting in groups difficult. Some people would just rather talk one-to-one, when it comes to a sensitive subject like experiences of disability/illness and churches. Some people’s experiences are painful, or involve subjects that are difficult to talk about in front of strangers.
I’m now branching out with my research methods, trying to reach people who haven’t been able to join groups, for whatever reason. I’ve set up a research discussion messageboard – if you’ve signed a consent form, you’re welcome to join it! This will allow people to think more about what we discussed face-to-face, and to expand on it, when they’re ready. I’m also meeting one-to-one with more and more people. (And that’s before we start talking about accessible methods for people with learning difficulties.)
Wherever you are, there will be a way I can help you to take part. Don’t worry if discussion groups aren’t for you. I can travel to where you are, or we can meet one-to-one on Skype, or we can talk over email. Get in touch using the web form below, and we can talk about the best way to include YOU.