The Seattle Club is an annual meeting for researchers in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities in the UK and Ireland. The idea of a UK/Ireland conference for researchers crystallized at the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disability World Congress in Seattle, USA in August 2000. Much of the UK/Irish research community in the field attended this congress, and it was noted that there was no regular data-focused conference for researchers available in the UK and Ireland. A small group of researchers: Chris Oliver, Eric Emerson, David Felce, Bob Remington, Chris Hatton and Richard Hastings met informally in Seattle after consulting with other researchers and decided to establish a new conference. The model in mind was the Gatlinburg conference in the USA, which is an annual meeting with a focus on the presentation of research data.

The first meeting was held in Birmingham in December 2001, and an annual meeting has been held ever since. The Seattle Club was used as a working title, and has stuck for want of a better name and because it serves as a reminder of the original rationale for the conference should this ever be in danger of being forgotten.


Unlike other "clubs", the Seattle Club does not have a fixed membership and it also has no formal organizational structure. Rather, colleagues volunteer to organize/host the conference each year and a small ad hoc group help with the various tasks required to make the meeting happen. The key criterion for attendance at the conference is that delegates must be active researchers. Active researcher is defined as having one's name as an author on an abstract submission that is accepted for the conference.

The Seattle Club conferences are open to any researcher based in the UK or Ireland who has new data relevant to the study of intellectual and developmental disabilities. Delegates carrying out research from behavioural and social sciences perspectives are welcomed, and delegates' backgrounds have included psychology, psychiatry, sociology, special education, professions allied to medicine, and those with broad social sciences training.

So, if you are a researcher in the ID/DD field and based in the UK or Ireland do come and join us at the next conference.


Although there has been some variation over the years, the Seattle Club conferences have settled into a pattern of defining features:

  1. The conference is relatively small - at the most around 100 delegates
  2. Active researchers only attend the conference
  3. At each conference we hope to run a Seattle Club Studentship scheme whereby supervisors/collaborators nominate early career researchers (e.g., PhD students, other students who want to enter the field, professionals embarking on a research career). Those awarded studentships attend the conference, but do not present a paper on the understanding that we hope to see them presenting data in the near future
  4. There is no “theme” for each conference, only presentation of the latest research data (which can be quantitative or qualitative)
  5. The conference runs as one single session - that is, there are no parallel sessions and every delegate attends all presentations
  6. Oral presentations are given by a mix of early career and more experienced researchers
  7. A good time period is allowed for poster presentations. These are viewed as equivalent status to oral papers, and many senior researchers present posters
  8. A keynote address is included in each programme
  9. Peer review is used for all submissions, and submissions without results summarized are sent for revision or even rejected!
  10. The conferences are organized mainly electronically, to keep costs down. The main vehicle for advertising the conference is the ID-Research-UK email list (link to that menu item)
  11. An informal social gathering is included in the programme - usually a very affordable meal!