We have a research programme that places the voices and lives of disabled people and their families’ at its centre.

ImagineBetter undertakes and shares evidence-based research that challenges the exclusion of people with disability from a range of everyday spaces. Our research programme aims to builds more inclusive communities where people with disability belong, feel valued, and can participate in ordinary ways. We are motivated to conduct research that generates positive social change and contributes new and critical knowledge to discussions on disability, belonging, inclusiveness, identity, diversity and community.

Putting research into practice

We believe better outcomes for people with disability are closely linked to research that can be put into practice. We therefore focus our attention on research that:

  • has everyday application and provides new and innovative ways for people to use in their daily life;
  • is relevant and meaningful to people with disability, families and disability services;
  • is accessible and disseminated in a variety of formats to people from across the disability sector, including people with disability, government departments, and scholars researching and working in critical disability studies;
  • takes into account peoples’ lived experience of disability and acknowledges cultural diversity, gender and age, and the specificities of place – for example where people live, learn, work, and play;
  • is collaborative and recognises disabled people and whānau’s expert knowledge about their own lives.

Research Approach

We take a multidisciplinary approach to the study of peoples’ lived experience of disability, and draw on critical social theories to guide our work. A range qualitative mixed-methods are used to create a research strategy that is rigorous, wide-ranging and suitable to the diverse needs of participants. We are committed to the use of research practice that is inclusive and ethical. We seek to work with – rather than on – people, and design our research to ensure participants gain practical value from their involvement.

Current Research Projects

Family Leadership

This project developed through ImagineBetter’s longstanding involvement with the International Initiative for Disability Leadership. We took the lead in developing a review that maps the changing landscape of leadership, disability, and family. This formed the basis for a range of research outputs, including presentations at large international conferences and publications in academic journals. It will also inform future research projects.

The Family Leadership research programme is important to better understand the drivers and challenges that families face, and the supports they need, to continue to support their disabled family member to live a good life. It is particularly important within the context of the changing disability landscape in New Zealand. Families need to be resourced, resilient and ready to make the most of opportunities that Enabling Good Lives and System Transformation present.

Spaces of Belonging

Spaces of Belonging is a collaborative project between ImagineBetter, Disabled Persons Assembly and the University of Waikato. It’s aim is to create new knowledge and different pathways for improved lives, relationships and spaces for disabled people and families. It involves a series of face-to-face interviews with a range of people with diverse experiences of impairment and disability.

This project will help us better understand the experiences of disabled people and their families/whanau, what helps them feel like they belong, and what enables them to be valued and contributing members of their community. This will ensure we continue developing knowledge and providing services that are responsive to the lives of disabled people and their families.

To learn more about our research programme, contact our research advisor.