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U-Lead East Asia Disability Rights Forum

U-Lead Logo, blends a specially designed circular logo which reads 'disability rights' in Mandarin, plus the University of Leeds logo.

U-LEAD Logo including Chinese characters translating as "strength through friendship"

U-Lead is a brand new initiative which aims to develop participatory research on disability in East Asia. During 2018 – 20 this project focused on the Chinese-speaking region of China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, a part of the world which is home to about 1.4 billion people – or a fifth of all humanity - at least 6% of whom are disabled. Despite China’s active engagement in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and significant changes in attitudes towards disabled people throughout this region, most disability research in East Asia is conducted without the involvement of disabled people.

U-Lead draws on traditions of participatory and emancipatory research that have informed disability research at the Centre for Disability Studies (CDS) over the past few decades. Its aim was to generate a body of research conducted by people in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong who have lived experience of disability. Activities focused on an annual U-Lead Forum, which was held at a university in the region, at which researchers were able to present and discuss work in progress. Researchers - many of whom may have no academic background - were given both mentoring and financial assistance to conduct small research projects on one of three annual themes:

Year 1: Work and employment

Year 2: Legal capacity and personhood

Year 3: Education

The research was conducted using a variety of methods and yield a range of different types of output. The research findings were published on a range of local and international platforms, including academic journals and social media. Through this research and engagement with stakeholders, the ambition is to energise educators, employers, legal professionals, policymakers and others to work creatively with disabled people to challenge and reduce ongoing exclusion.

U-LEAD’s project manager is Stephen Hallett, to whom any inquiries should be directed. He can be contacted by email:

Academic and management support is provided by the following members of CDS:

Prof Anna Lawson (School of Law) (Project lead)

Dr Angharad Beckett (School of Sociology & Social Policy)

Prof Gerard Quinn (School of Law)

Prof Mark Priestley (School of Sociology & Social Policy)

Prof Luke Clements (School of Law)