Rod Wills has held both voluntary and formal roles in the disability sector for over 30 years. He is the parent of a woman with Down syndrome, a researcher and advocate. Working with his colleague, Harry Snell, Able Comics www.ablecomics.nz was launched in late 2020 to support the narrative of people with an intellectual disability, their families and whānau. A driver for this has been his work over a decade for Interacting Disability Theatre, and the community films projects of Little Feat Films. These have provided a platform for joint research and presentation between Rod and Hank.
Rod held the role of senior lecturer in Disability Studies at the University of Auckland for 25 years. Prior to that he led the development of the community-based teams of clinicians supporting the process of deinstitutionalisation of residents at Mangere Hospital in Auckland. He has written extensively in the area of family support and inclusive education.
He is a trained social worker and registered teacher and is completing his PhD through the School of Human Service and Social Work at Griffith University, Brisbane. This research examines the training and preparation of GPs through the two medical schools in Aotearoa New Zealand and the development of their understanding of caregiving by families supporting people with an intellectual disability.
Central to this research is the function of narrative, to offset ableism.