Tā Mātou Mahi - Our Work

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The DBI was established over thirty years ago in direct response to a lack of New Zealand research in the field of learning disability (intellectual disability). Conducting and disseminating evidence-based and meaningful research continues to be central to the work of the DBI. Our team, in collaboration with disabled researchers, disabled people, families and whānau, Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs), disability organisations, and academic peers, seek funding through contestable research funding rounds in order that disability research remains on Aotearoa New Zealand’s research agenda.

DBI researchers use a range of research approaches, tailored to the particular research question under study. We have a strong commitment to using and extending inclusive methodologies, to ensure disabled people have control over how they participate in research. We try to live by the well-recognised slogan 'nothing about us, without us' in relation to our work with disabled people and within the disability sector, all of which is designed to align with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2016-2026 New Zealand Disability Strategy.

Evaluation, Monitoring and Service Innovation

An important strand of DBI work comes through commissioned projects. Our team regularly collaborates with Disabled People's Organisations (DPOs) and disability organisations to develop and implement transformative evaluation and service innovation projects. These are consistently designed to facilitate organisational learning and more responsive and socially just supports and services - as outlined in the UN CRPD. Evaluation projects are designed to meet the needs of the individuals and organisations involved, while our service innovation work involves exploring the potential of new and innovative ideas with disabled people, families and whānau or disability organisations. All activities of this kind include a focus on turning evidence-based ideas into policy or practice reality.


We share our research as freely and as widely as we can through written reports and articles, conference presentations, seminars and workshops, and through more informal opportunities for discussion. The DBI also has the capacity to deliver individually tailored evidence-based education on a range of topics.

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