International Disability & Rehabilitation Journals: a (relatively) brief review
By Kay Schriner (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reading journals is not everyone's idea of fun, but they're not just for pointy-headed researchers. They can be a source of valuable information for people with disabilities who are looking for, say, the most recent developments in assistive technology, information about policy developments, or new ways of thinking about disability and society.
There are lots of ways of judging the merit of journals. To some extent, this depends on what the journal is intended to do. For example, a journal that publishes articles announcing scientific breakthroughs in assistive technology should, in my opinion, be most concerned with the utility, reliability, and safety of the technologies described there. How important is the technology for the end user, the person with a disability who needs a better way of using a computer on the job, taking care of children, or playing with friends? Similar criteria would apply to a publication featuring other types of disability services.
The journal devoted to public policy should also be concerned with accuracy and utility. I look for articles addressing policies that are important to disabled people with reliable information that can be easily understood.
In a publication that is more oriented toward exploring alternative views about disability and society, I hope to find provocative ideas that call into question the confinements of current thinking. Accuracy in a technical sense is not so much of a concern. I'm looking for challenging and thoughtful assessments of how we think and how we might think instead.
This is one person's review of international journals on disability and rehabilitation journals representing a range of purposes. Some are devoted to publishing research that empirically test service-related practices; others are more concerned with the ideas and policies underlying our current approaches to disability. All have value - it just depends on what you're looking for. Readers with a variety of interests should find something worth reading in this list.
A warning: This review reflects my personal experiences and values. I tend to like journals that make me think about the political issues of disability, so I gravitate toward policy-oriented publications. (I served for 10 years as editor of the Journal of Disability Policy Studies, a U.S. publication which is reviewed here.) If this bias colors the review too much, my apologies.
For each journal, I reviewed one or more recent issues. The following is a brief description of their contents, and my reactions. Also, I include as much information as possible about how to subscribe.
Scant information about alternative formats
As I wrote up this review, it occurred to me that none of the journals I looked at included information about how to get the publication in alternative formats (or if they did, I didn't see it). This seems a serious omission that editors and publishers need to address... soon!
It's worth noting too, that some of these journals make it hard to figure out how to subscribe. It sometimes took an unreasonable amount of sleuthing to figure out how much it cost to get the journal or where to send payment - or even if it could be obtained through subscription.
I would really like to see journals take steps to make themselves more widely available. At a bare minimum, subscription policies and information should be easily found. Better yet, journals could establish lower subscription rates for individuals and institutions with fewer resources. Most don't do this, although the World Health Organization's Bulletin has lower rates for institutional subscribers from developing countries and the regular subscription rate for the Journal of Disability Policy Studies might be reasonable enough for many individuals with low incomes. Another option is to do what the Asia Pacific Disability Rehabilitation Journal and International Rehabilitation Review have done. They can be accessed on-line at no cost.
Traditionally, the main subscribers for these types of publications have been university libraries, researchers, and organizations. But knowledge is a source of power, and democracy demands the sharing of power. Equally important, the human condition is more likely to be improved when we are all involved in the effort. This depends on democratization of the production, dissemination, and use of knowledge.
Making journals widely available to the disability community and other relevant audiences such as policymakers is an important step in this process. Even for-profit publishers could move in this direction by, for example, setting graduated subscription rates. (The high subscription rates for the Taylor & Francis publications Disability and Rehabilitation and Disability and Society would be more palatable if there were other, lower rates for organizations and individuals with less money to spend.) The future may bring improvements on this score. It is high time for it.
Asia Pacific Disability Rehabilitation Journal.
The Japanese Society for Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons and Action for Disability sponsor this twice-yearly publication. It is "for private circulation only" for "researchers, planners, administrators, professionals, donor organisations and implementing agencies involved in disability and non-institutional rehabilitation."
Many of the articles published here have to do with community-based rehabilitation (CBR). These have been written by authors from numerous countries, including for example, program organizers and an anthropologist. This is fascinating reading. CBR is accepted by some as the best approach for developing nations to promote integration and participation among their disabled citizens, but as the articles in this journal indicate, CBR is not without its detractors. This debate is one mark of the maturity of the disability rights movement and its attendant scholarship. As played out in this journal in recent issues, the discussion raises issues of tremendous importance to people with disabilities - including politics, culture, ideology, and social change.
The journal's offering are generally brief, but with sufficient grounding in 'the literature' to be considered scholarly. The balance here is, in my opinion, just about right. Articles are well-written, relevant, and often intriguing. It's an easy call to recommend this publication for readers concerned with developments around the world which chronicle the search for equality for disabled people.
Subscription information: The journal is mailed to some 2000 readers at no cost. It's not entirely clear how the journal decides who will provided with a copy and who will not, but it's worth asking. Contact the editor, Dr. Maya Thomas at Asia Pacific Disability Rehabilitation Journal, J-124, Ushas Apartments, 16th Main, 4th Block, Jayanagar, Bangalore-560011, Karnataka, India, or on e-mail at email@example.com.
Readers with internet access will be glad to hear that recent issues of the journal can be read in their entirety at. Just click on the issue you want to look at.
Asia & Pacific Journal on Disability.
The purpose of this journal is to publish "articles or research reports that have significant impact on policy and practice concerning people with disabilities and their families." A publication of the Asia and Pacific Regional Committee of Rehabilitation International and the Regional NGO Network, the editorial board apparently includes a mix of professionals, academics, and non-academics.
The issue I reviewed included articles on a number of topics that would be of immediate interest to disabled people. One described a blood glucose meter with voice announcing module that can be used by blind people who have diabetic retinopathy, a useful tool for someone who needs to monitor blood glucose levels to manage their diabetes. Another report presented results from a 9-nation survey of practices and policies regarding assistive technology. There were also pieces about women and the independent living movement in Japan, efforts to improve architectural accessibility in Vietnam, and a report on the Beijing +5 meetings on women with disabilities.
I liked the brevity of articles in this journal. They were to the point and well-written. Readers who are looking for extensive literature reviews won't find them here. The focus of the journal seems to be on publishing articles that reflect a disability rights philosophy. The action perspective is terrific.
Subscription information: Electronic copies of the journal are available free of charge at . Or contact the executive editor, Dr. Karen Ngai, whose e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Her mailing address is c/o Division of Social Studies, City University of Hong Kong, Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon, Hong Kong. The fax number is 852.2788.7709.
Bulletin of the World Health Organization.
The issue I reviewed had a special theme: blindness. There were more than 20 articles and entries (editorials, research articles, public health reviews, policy and practice pieces, a round table discussion, public health classics, letters, a profile, news, and WHO news).
This journal is a more traditional academic journal. The articles are heavily referenced, some with numerous tables presenting data. The emphasis is on medical information and interventions. An interesting feature is the archive which, in this issue, presented a page from a 1881 Berlin publication (in both German and English) on the prevention of inflammatory eye disease in newborns). History buffs would enjoy this part.
The main articles are in English, but each comes with an abstract in French and Spanish as well. The featured authors of this issue were from Australia, Belgium, England, India, Nepal, Nigeria, Switzerland, and the United States.
This journal has some fine qualities. It looks professional, and offers scads of printed material. I wondered, though, to what extent the publication reflects the perspectives of disabled people themselves. The World Health Organization is under fire from the disability rights community for its new International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities, and Handicaps, and I suspect that if I read this WHO publication on a regular basis, I would argue that it is overly concerned with 'fixing' disabled people - to the virtual exclusion of the societal conditions that make life difficult for them.
Yes, medical research has a role in improving conditions for disabled people, but as we all know by now, also can be an oppressive force. I would recommend keeping an eye on the Bulletin just to see what these folks are up to. You may even feel like writing a letter to the editor. I know I do.
Subscription information: ISSN 0042-9686. Published monthly. Institutional rate: Sw.fr.200/U.S.$160 (surface mail) Sw.fr.249/U.S.$200 (airmail Europe) Sw.fr.261/U.S. 209 (airmail outside Europe. Special rates for developing countries: Sw.fr.140/U.S.$112 (surface mail) Sw.fr.189/U.S$152 (airmail Europe) Sw.fr.201/U.S.$161 (airmail outside Europe). Available from: http://www.who.int/bulletin/
Disability and Rehabilitation.
On the surface, Disability and Rehabilitation looks like Disability and Society (reviewed below), but there the similarity ends. This publication is oriented toward rehabilitation in the traditional sense, and publishes technically "good" research... with an emphasis on disability.
The contents of most of the recent issues I looked at documented the impairment-related problems disabled people experience and what professionals can do to remedy them. A welcome exception was the January 2002 issue which focuses on assistive technology - how it works, what consumers think of it, how to make sure consumers can use it. This one I found to be very consumer-oriented with useful evaluations of AT.
Generally, though, I found the emphasis on deficits and problems depressing. There's no question that many individuals with disabilities would like improved access to the offerings of medicine and related fields and that many professionals in those fields want to improve their practice. But it's one thing to come at it from the point of view that disabled people are abnormally troubled and overwhelmed by problems, and that professionals know a lot more about solutions than do disabled people themselves. Maybe I'm overly-suspicious, but I got the impression that this is the perspective that underlies much of what is published in this journal.
Nonetheless, there is some interesting stuff here. The 'problems' articles might be useful if you're searching for documentation of that type. And there's just enough inclusion of policy- and consumer-oriented information to justify more reading - if you're willing to pay an institutional rate for a subscription. Alternatively, check the nearest university or college library for a copy.
Subscription information: ISSN 0963-8288. 18 issues per year. Institutional rate: U.S.$1024/£621. A free trial subscription is available or you can subscribe through Taylor and Francis.
Disability and Society.
True to its name, this journal regularly publishes thought-provoking pieces about disability and society. One recent article discussed the way language about disability is changing in Japan. Another evaluated the caselaw under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which covers the activities of state and local governments. There have been several pieces about interpersonal relationships in families, disability service programs, and public places.
Disability and Society is published by a British company but includes articles from numerous other nations. Its editorial board includes people with disabilities who are known for their participation in the disability rights movement. There is also a panel of international editors.
Disability and Society offers readers material they are unlikely to find elsewhere. It has a freewheeling feel to it - a refreshing break from the tedium of so many other journals. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for the more 'out there' perspectives on disability and society.
Subscription information: ISSN 0968-7599. 7 issues per year. Institutional rate: US$782/£473. Individual rate: US$207/£114. You can take a peek at Disability and Society on a trial basis or you can subscribe.
Disability Studies Quarterly.
DSQ is a publication of the Society for Disability Studies. The Quarterly was founded by American sociological Irving Zola, known for his work in health and disability. DSQ was first established to circulate opinions and musings as well as research findings, book reviews, and announcements of upcoming events. It remains true to that tradition.
DSQ does not bill itself as an international journal. Most of its authors are from the U.S. But the most recent issue was on disability geography and included articles from Thailand, Indonesia, India, Ireland, England, Scotland, Australia, Singapore, Southern Africa, and the United States. This was a stimulating issue, addressing emerging questions about the geography of disability. There were articles about people with various kinds of impairments and the social geography of their lives. For example, one piece described the experiences of disabled people living in segregated special-needs housing, and another took a close look at the planing process for the Sydney 2000 Paralympic and Olympic Games.
This is a good journal to keep track of if you're interested in the field of disability studies. DSQ represents a point of view about disability and society akin to that of Disability and Society. Its contents are usually animated and stimulating.
Subscription information: DSQ is published four times a year. Subscriptions come with membership in the Society for Disability Studies (http://www.uic.edu/orgs/sds/, at 312.996.4664, voice or TYY, or at their e-mail address email@example.com) or can be purchased separately. DSQ is also available on-line at http://www.cds.hawaii.edu/dsq/.
International Journal of Rehabilitation Research.
Published by the European Federation for Research in Rehabilitation, this journal describes itself as an interdisciplinary publication devoted to covering "research into disability and handicap experienced by persons of all ages in both developed and developing societies." The audience includes researchers, practitioners, and administrators in rehabilitation, medicine, nursing, special education, social policy, and so on.
The issue I reviewed has several kinds of articles. The first piece has to do with patients' needs during rehabilitation after hip replacement surgery, another addressed the attitudes of community-living staff toward the integration of people with mental retardation in the community, a third described the use of virtual reality to test and train users of power wheelchairs. A nice mix.
All the articles were brief research reports. Authors were from many different nations, as are the editorial staff. The affiliations of the editorial board members are not listed.
Given my personal preference for cutting-edge policy and political coverage, readers won't be too surprised that I found little here to get excited about. But people looking for sound research that reflects a bit of consumerism (while still firmly in the context of professional-dominated service delivery) should find this a good resource.
Subscription information: Published 4 times a year. Institutional rate: U.S.$285. Individual rate: U.S.$113. Order from Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 12107 Insurance Way, Hagerstown, MD 21740 USA. Toll free number in U.S. 1.800.638.3030; fax 301.824.7390. In Japan, order from Igaku-Shoin Ltd, 1-28-36 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113, Japan. Telephone (+81)3.3817.5675; fax (+81)3.3815.6776. Airmail delivery is available at a higher cost (contact the subscription office for more information).
International Rehabilitation Review.
Rehabilitation International publishes this journal. (RI is also a sponsor of Disability World.)
This is a lively publication clearly infused with a disability rights perspective. The issue I looked at had an impassioned plea for a U.N. Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities by RI's president, Lex Frieden. Another contribution described an agenda for protecting the rights of institutionalized people with disabilities. There were also reviews of two films, both of which sound fascinating (and disturbing).
The Review offers much-needed information about the current state of the world-wide disability rights movement and what's next on the political agenda. Its format is especially pleasing. There are lots of pictures of disabled people working, protesting, contributing - just being people.
There's a lot to like about this publication. Take a look if you haven't seen it, especially if you're interested in the disability rights movement.
Subscription information: $45.00 a year; also available on disk. Additionally, the Review is offered on an exchange basis for other disability journals and newsletters. To ask about this, contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at Rehabilitation International, 25 East 21st St., New York, NY 10010 USA. Telephone 212.420.1500; fax 212.505.0871; TDD 212.420.1752. Some previous issues of the journal are also available online at www.rehab-international.org.
Issues in Law and Medicine.
I was a little put off by this journal when I saw that it's published by the National Legal Center for the Medically Dependent and Disabled, Inc. I see red flags whenever disability terms include the word "the" (as in "the deaf" or "the disabled"). The rest of the phrase didn't help.
On closer examination, I felt differently. The two main articles (both long) are quite interesting. One is entitled "Psychiatric Darwinism=Survival of the Fittest+Extinction of the Unfit," and deals with the American Health Security Act of 1993, which though not enacted in its entirely, has found its way into law in bits. The Act is based on utilitarian principles that threaten the wellbeing of people labeled mentally ill. The second article is entitled "An Outsider's View of Dutch Euthanasia Policy and Practice." It's written by an Israeli who once supported euthanasia and now does not.
The journal also published the decision of Canada's Supreme Court in the case of Robert William Latimer, whom readers may remember, was charged with the murder of his disabled daughter. The Court upheld his conviction, and its opinion is good reading for anyone following this important case.
Subscription information: ISSN 8756-8160. Institutional rate: U.S.$89. Individual rate: U.S.$69. Contact Issues in Law & Medicine, Office of Publications, 3 South 6th St., Terre Haute, IN 47807-3510 USA.
Journal of Disability Policy Studies.
JDPS does not often have articles focusing on international issues but it's worth knowing about since it is the only American journal focusing specifically on disability policy and law.
There is lots here for readers wanting research and discussion about U.S. policies affecting disabled people. For example, one recent study reported on academic performance standards as applied to students with disabilities. JDPS has also published two special issues in recent months, one on the subject of oppression and another on public policy toward families of disabled children.
JDPS features the more traditional research articles as well as a policy forum and comments section. Its contents generally are of high quality and accessible to a lay audience.
As I already mentioned, I edited this journal for 10 years. My judgement is not unbiased, but for what it's worth, here's my take on it. JDPS filled a void in the U.S. market and publishes stimulating and reliable research of the type that is difficult to find in other disability-related journals.
Subscription information: ISSN 1044-2073. 4 issues per year. Institutional rate: U.S.$95. Individual rate: U.S.$39. Foreign subscribers U.S.$120. JDPS is available online or from Pro-ed, 8700 Shoal Creek Blvd., Austin, TX 78757-6897 USA. Telephone (toll free in USA) 1.800.897.3202.
Saudi Journal of Disability and Rehabilitation.
The Islamic World Council on Disability and Rehabilitation and The Joint Centre for Research in Prosthetics and Orthotics and Rehabilitation Programmes jointly publish this journal. It bills itself as an international journal. Articles are written in English, and include an abstract in Arabic.
The issue I reviewed concerned rehabilitation in Singapore. The lead article evaluated the status of special education there, documenting a move toward inclusive education for disabled children. There were also pieces on hospital-based rehabilitation services, exercise-inducted asthma in young people with disabilities, and rehab services for people with brain injuries. My personal favorite was a description of the conversion of a center-based rehabilitation program to a person-centered program to reflect the need for choice and self-determination in service delivery.
One nice feature of this journal is that it includes an appendix with abstracts of articles published elsewhere. I wish more journals would do this; it adds value.
This is a journal worth reading by those wanting to keep abreast of international developments in disability services, education, and public policy.
Subscription information: ISSN 1319 6499-18/0025. There was no information in the journal about subscribing. The e-mail address given for the editor-in-chief is email@example.com, and the address is Saudi Journal of Disability and Rehabilitation, P.O. Box 91409, Riyadh 11633, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.