The Donald Beasley Institute was set up over thirty years ago in direct response to a lack of New Zealand research in the field of intellectual disability (learning disability). Conducting and disseminating evidence-based and meaningful research continues to be central to the work of the Institute. Institute researchers, in collaboration with disabled people, families, disability organisations, and academic peers, seek funding through contestable research funding rounds in order that disability research remains on New Zealand’s research agenda. Institute researchers use quantitative, mixed-method and qualitative approaches to research according to the particular research question under study. Creating and implementing research strategies that ensure disabled people have control over how they participate in research is an important aspect of the Institute’s work. 

Evaluation and Service Innovation

Another important strand of work for the Donald Beasley Institute is that of commissioned projects. Institute researchers regularly collaborate with disability organisations to develop and implement transformative evaluation and service innovation projects that facilitate organisational learning and more responsive and socially just supports and services. Each evaluation project undertaken is designed to meet the needs of the individuals and organisations involved. Service innovation is another exciting area of work undertaken by the institute researchers. This involves exploring the potential of new and innovative ideas with disabled people, families or disability organisations, and developing ways to put those ideas into practice.


The Donald Beasley Institute seeks to promote education through the dissemination of evidence-based research. This occurs through written reports and articles, conference presentations, and seminars and workshops. The Institute has the capacity to deliver individually tailored education on a range of topics and also offers a number of existing training packages.

Donald Beasley staff discuss work with community leaders