Dr Alison Wilde

ISRF Independent Scholar Fellow 2022

Dr Alison Wilde

ISRF Independent Scholar Fellow 2022

Alison Wilde has taught and researched at several universities, and has a strong interest in culture, communications, and disability. She is often conducts research on disability, and has worked on a range of social justice issues in activist, academic, and other roles. Alison has written mainly on topics of screen media, disability, gender and audiences, in addition to researching and publishing on disability and educational inclusion, parenting, gender, social and health care. She co-founded both the MeCCSA Disability Studies Network, and the BSA’s Disability Studies Group and occasionally contributes to Disability Arts Online.  Her first book on comedy, film and disability was published in 2018.

Media, Communications and People with Learning Difficulties and Autism – Lessons from the Pandemic

The intention of the proposed research is to use inclusive methods to seek understandings that people with learning disabilities/difficulties and/or autism (PWLDA) have gained during the COVID 19 pandemic, focusing on their understandings of media, health-related communications and network information, (e.g. from family / carers / friends/ social care agencies). The vast range of commentaries on health, risk, care, science, and wellbeing, pose multiple and (largely) unknown problems for PWLDA in allowing them to know which information to trust. At a time where services have struggled to provide basic support, they are an exceptionally high-risk group, with a range of new communication needs, potentially generating greater uncertainty, anxiety, panic, and risks to self and others. There is an urgent need to understand how PWLDA have accessed information and interpreted the communications and conditions of rapidly changing pandemic rules, in the face of a vast array of information from all media, and alongside diminished forms of support. There has been no systematic analysis of how PWLDA have experienced communications and used information during the crisis, and there is little consideration of PWLDA in media and communications studies.

The researcher will use qualitative and quantitative methods to examine the in-depth experiences of 30 PWLDA within their networks. Semi-structured episodic interviews will be used to gain insights into into how participants to recollect different stages in their understandings of and reactions to significant periods (e.g. lockdown), producing data which will inform a wider survey. The aim is to inform effective ongoing communications about guidance, wellbeing, and social support. Key outputs of the study will include written publications, a conference for PWLDA, practitioners and academics, the development of an interactive toolkit for the use of PWLDA, their networks, media and public health services which anticipates media and political communication needs in future.

Contacting Fellows

If you would like to contact any of our Fellows to discuss their ISRF-funded work, please contact Dr Lars Cornelissen (Academic Editor) in the first instance, at lars.cornelissen@isrf.org.