Studying the sexual barriers faced by people with disabilities

Check out this intriguing article featuring the research of Michelle Apps, MSW Candidate at the University of Regina. COR is proud to be supporting Michelle in her academic journey!

Article by: Dale Johnson, posted to the UofR website on December 3, 2015

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A University of Regina student is looking into how disabilities affect a person’s sex life.

“I’m conducting research in this area, because it’s often viewed in society as a very taboo subject. It’s important to have conversations with folks experiencing disabilities to see what their experiences are accessing sex, and how they think it could be better facilitated,” explains Michelle Apps, who is conducting the research project as part of her Master of Social Work program. “It’s a very under-researched area, in both disability studies and sexuality studies, so through the intersection of the two I hope to bring a bit more attention to the subject.”

“I’m hoping my research will lead to people with disabilities feeling as if they have a voice in this area and are being heard. I’m hoping to add to the small but growing body of literature supporting people with disabilities accessing sex as a right, and to help dispel the myth that people with disabilities are asexual beings,” she says.

Her faculty supervisor, Dr. Randy Johner, says: “Although many people with disabilities, and those who support people with disabilities, believe that accessing an erotic life is very important and needs to be openly discussed in both private and public spheres, there is a great reluctance to share such sensitive and sometimes very hurtful issues concerning sexuality with someone outside of one’s care circle.”

Apps’ research is supported by Creative Options Regina, an organization that supports people with developmental disabilities through housing and programming.

“They have been instrumental in helping me get in touch with potential research participants, and I’m assisting them with some policy and programming development,” she says.

Apps is looking for people with disabilities, physical or intellectual, to share their experiences with her about accessing an erotic life (defined as any sexually-charged touch and can include cuddling, hugging, kissing on so on), what barriers they have faced, and how they think it could be best facilitated.

“I am hoping to have initial results before Christmas, or early in the New Year. I am aiming to submit my findings to the Review of Disability Studies in the spring,” she adds. “I am hoping that through knowledge translation through publishing and presenting at conferences, that I can help support policy changes at higher levels.”

Click here for the full article on the UofR website.

Click here for the Regina LeaderPost Article: University of Regina student researching sex for the disabled

Click here for the Global Regina Story: People with disabilities still want sex, according to U of R research