Canadian Association for Supported Employment

Dr. De-Lawrence Lamptey

Breaking barriers for Black health researchers and children and youth experiencing disability

Photo: Dr. De-Lawrence Lamptey. Person with dark skin and short dark hair and brown eyes smiling, wearing white and light brown plaid shirt, sitting with teal and bright green vertical lines on wall behind him.

In recognition of Black History Month, we are profiling Dr. De-Lawrence Lamptey, a Black researcher who experiences disability and who is breaking barriers in his field. Last fall, the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto named Dr. Lamptey as their EMBARK program’s inaugural scientist. 

EMBARK — Empowering Black Academics, Researchers, and Knowledge creators

The EMBARK program—Empowering Black Academics, Researchers, and Knowledge creators—is the first of its kind in Canada. It was launched in partnership with the Black Research Network at the University of Toronto that promotes Black research excellence. 

EMBARK fills a crucial gap in amplifying diverse Black voices in childhood disability research. The program aims to address barriers that Black scholars face and to set them up for successful academic careers. 

“Having been able to achieve a lot of my ambitions in life despite the many barriers I have faced as a person with a disability, I decided to do whatever I can to break down barriers and support children and youth with disabilities to thrive in their lives.”

Source: Black Research Network, University of Toronto

Institutional Racism Reinforces Discrimination and Heightens Isolation

CASE’s Diversity Works research report states:

“‘policies and practices rooted in Canadian institutions, such as education, health care, and justice, mirror and reinforce beliefs, attitudes, prejudice, stereotyping and/or discrimination towards people of Black-African Descent.’ (Black Health Alliance, n.d). 

“This understanding of the deep roots of anti-Black racism in our institutions highlights the distinct processes of systemic racism that affect Black communities.” 

Diversity Works found that many participants described themselves as either the only or one of a few Black employees in most work environments. These feelings of isolation were only intensified by the underrepresentation of people who experience disability in the workplace. 

Reducing Barriers by Creating Space for Diverse Researchers

Black researchers often face barriers in advancing their research beyond the post-doctoral level and in securing faculty appointments. Consequently, there are few Black voices in research and science to guide diverse students. More diverse perspectives are also needed to lead to better science and to new possibilities for all the diverse people who will benefit.  

Research to Promote the Lives of Persons Experiencing Disability

In an interview with Joeita Gupta on The Pulse, Dr. Lamptey discussed his years growing up in Ghana. He has paralysis linked to cerebral palsy, cannot use his right hand, and walks with a limp. When he attended school, he didn’t see other persons experiencing disability. 

Even the people he came across conducting disability research did not live with a disability. Dr. Lamptey decided that he wanted to give back to the disability community by using research as a tool to promote the lives of persons who experience disability. 

Today, Dr. Lamptey has several publications related to policy, programs, and services for children and youth who experience disability. His current research focuses on the intersectionality of childhood disability and racial identity across Canada. He also wants to establish the Race/Ethnicity And Disability (READ) research lab to mobilize researchers, students, and community partners to advance research needed to inform policy and practice across Canada and internationally.

Dr. Lamptey’s current research focuses on the intersectionality of childhood disability and racial identity across Canada. He wants to establish the Race/Ethnicity And Disability (READ) research lab to inform policy and practice in Canada and internationally.

More information:

Breaking down barriers: Holland Bloorview announces inaugural EMBARK scientist. Black Research Network at University of Toronto website.

EMBARK Program: Amplifying diverse Black voices in disability research. Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital website.

Being Black & Disabled: A Researcher’s Perspective. Interview with Dr. De-Lawrence Lamptey by Joeita Gupta on The Pulse – Feb 2023:

CASE’s Diversity Works Research
. CASE website.