Getting things changed: tackling disabling practices

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1 Canon's Road



United Kingdom

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Event description


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Using performance and facilitated theatre, explore disabled people’s university experiences and help challenge and solve scenarios in which they experience institutional prejudice.

As part of our national research to explore disabled people’s university experience, we would like to raise awareness of disabling practices with a view to getting things changed. Our audience will have the opportunity to share perspectives and help us distinguish what enables disabled people in Higher Education, and what prolongs institutional prejudice. As the event is organised by a group of disabled students, we endeavour to make it as accessible as possible.

Using Forum Theatre, we will become a group of change agents. A series of scenarios will be acted out and audience members will be invited to stop the performance to offer suggestions and ideas for how to improve the situation. All participation is voluntary and a facilitator will guide the audience throughout, as we explore an improved approach to disability.



The nearest car parks to The Watershed are The Millennium Square Car Park or Trenchard Street NCP Car Park. Both of these car parks have Blue Badge spaces and there are two additional Blue Badge spaces to the rear of The Watershed on Canons Road

In the building

The main entrance to The Watershed and the Box Office are both located on the ground floor which is accessible via a ramped, electronically assisted entrance door. Many of The Watershed staff, including their Box Office and Café/Bar teams, have received basic training in British Sign Language (BSL), and there is a BSL video welcome on the information screen at Box Office.

There will be two British Sign Language/English interpreters present at the event, and live captioning will be used throughout the performances. The room has an induction loop.

There will be a quiet room available on the day, so people can take breaks if needed.

While the event will have participation, it is all voluntary and you will not have to say anything if you do not want to.

Once on the first floor there is level access to all areas as well as an accessible toilet (with baby changing facilities). Guide dogs and hearing dogs are very welcome.

Other information about the Watershed can be found at:

If you have any questions, please contact

Getting Things Changed

This event is being run as part of a large scale national research study called ‘Getting Things Changed’. This three year study is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and is based at Norah Fry Research Centre at the University of Bristol, led by Professor Val Williams. There are a number of other key partners in the research including Disability Rights UK (DRUK) Loughborough University, Lancaster University, the University of York, and the National Development Team for Inclusion.

The overarching aim of the study is to respond to the widespread concerns about the problems faced by disabled people, in many different areas of their lives. There is often a gap between policy and practice, and we aim to understand more about social practices, so that we know about how to shift and change them to include disabled people.‌

To do this, the research actively involves disabled people in each of its five empirical strands; Getting Good Support, Changing The Academy; Health; Successful Parenting; and User Driven Commissioning.

This event is part of the ‘Changing the Academy’ Strand which actively involves students who identify as disabled from The University of Bristol, to investigate the barriers faced by disabled students in higher education, and how they can use theoretical frameworks of change to identify how students can effect change on their own terms

These students are co-researchers on the project and are guiding the work being done on the Strand. The students are recording and reflecting upon their own experiences of being a student with disabilities, and are actively engaging with other students about their experiences by conducting interviews.

Research team

This event is being organised and run by a group of researchers from the University of Bristol. The research team is made up of both academics from the Norah Fry Centre for Disability Studies, School for Policy Studies; Graduate School of Education; and students who identify as disabled from across the University.

Professor Val Williams, School for Policy Studies, Norah Fry Centre for Disability Studies, is the Principal Investigator (PI).  Dr Sue Porter, is the Strand Leader Victoria Mason and Wendy Merchant are the Research Associates supporting the work.

Aims for the day

The student co-researchers working on this project have chosen to use their own reflective accounts of their experiences at University to guide today’s event. Their collective experiences have created the scripts and working with your help they want to begin to analyse this information by acting out how things could be done better. Or how they could be changed.

How the day will run

The day will involve a number of small group discussions and then large group performances. The day will only work with the participation of audience members, so whilst your participation is completely voluntary, we would ask that you participate in the small group discussions to aid the development of ideas and theories of change. 

Live captioning

Live captioning will be used throughout the performances during the day. All ‘actors’ will were microphones and the content of what they say will be presented on screens around the performance area for everyone to see.

A transcript of these performances will be generated from the captioning which will be used by the research team in their analysis of the content of the performance. The transcripts will be stored securely on a computer where only the Bristol researchers will have access.  At the end of the project the transcripts will be archived for data sharing, for a 10 year period in line with the established procedures for archiving at the University of Bristol. This archive will be managed by Dr Pauline Heslop and Beth Tarleton, University of Bristol.

This transcript will also be sent to all attendees. This will be done by email so please do provide us with these details when you book your tickets.


The main group performances will be filmed throughout the day. These films will be used by the research team to assist with their analysis of their own reflective accounts. These films will be stored securely on a computer where only the Bristol researchers have access. At the end of the project these films will be destroyed as, as transcripts are to be archived for data sharing, few additional benefits to the community would accrue from the archiving of these files.

Lunch will be provided. There will be space on the registration form to state any dietary requirements.

This event is free but spaces are limited, so please register for your place.

All are welcome, even if you have ever attended university or not.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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1 Canon's Road



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