Disability Studies Conference in Turku, Finland, on 7-8.6

On 7-8th of June, Finnish Disability Studies Conference was held at Turku, Finland. This is an annual conference and the third one. Jukka and I participated in this conference. It was attended by 100 people both from universities and organisations of persons with disabilities. Very active interaction took place throughout the conference: very good mixture of academics and activists. One of the keynote speakers was Associate Professor Helen Meekosha who has published extensively on marginalized groups of persons with disabilities among persons with disabilities. This time, her presentation was on Aboriginal people with disabilities in Australia. It was very striking to observe how many structural barriers are on such marginalized persons with disabilities, while many persons with disabilities have been empowered and mainstreamed elsewhere. This heterogeneity of persons with disabilities was often revisited in different discussions on different themes in different contexts. For me, this conference was particularly interesting to understand the variety of research interests in Finland: from bio-ethics on cochlear implant for pre-lingual children to rights to self-determination of persons with developmental disabilities on housing; from legal study to music. In disability studies, I feel at home. This is an important forum for many of us who are marginalized in academic world. Finland is finally going to have a professor on disability studies at Helsinki University most probably from next year onwards for five years. A number of disability organizations raised fund for establishing this position and donated their contributions to the University. Thus the process is already very significant. We are living in a very exciting time in Finland!