Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Manuel Riemer

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Despite the fact that people with disabilities are disproportionately represented among the world’s poorest, they have been marginalized in poverty research and have had minimal involvement in poverty reduction strategies. The current study addresses this issue, by providing an opportunity for people with developmental disabilities to control and direct the research agenda, and to have an active voice on the topic of poverty and disability. Thus, the present study aims to support the development of poverty reduction strategies by raising key issues and breaking down barriers to participation for people with developmental disabilities. This study utilized a social power framework and participatory action research approach, guided by an advisory committee of adults with developmental disabilities. Participants (n=27) included self-advocates with developmental disabilities, 18 years or older, living with low income. Six focus groups were conducted in Brantford, Hamilton and Waterloo region. The findings of this study revealed that the lived experience and consequences of poverty are characterized by a lack of resources to fulfill basic needs and participate in community life. Challenges to overcoming poverty include discrimination, dominant ideologies about disability, lack of employment opportunities and exclusion from participation in decision making about key disability and poverty issues. Thus, participants identified needs and recommendations for change to increase resources, promote participation and elimination of deficit -focused approaches, coupled with dissemination of the strengths-based approach to disability. The study provides increased visibility ofpeople with developmental disabilities to help overcome negative societal perceptions of disability. The implications of this study can be important in promoting preventive social programs and transformative social policy, both which aim to attack the causes of longterm poverty in Canada.

Convocation Year


Included in

Psychology Commons