Disability Identity Conference

LSE disability identity conference
disability is rarely
celebrated as an
aspect of diversity
and stereotyping is
 impairment and
disability are not
automatic bedfellows
The Equality Act 2010
‘framework for a fairer future'
recognises multiple identity
including dual characteristics
 includes discrimination by
association and perception
 streamlines legislation
 protected characteristics-race, gender
disability, age, sexual orientation, religion
and belief, gender reassignment,
and maternity, marriage and civil
majority world
600 million people disabled globally (1 in 10)
80% located in majority world countries
mainly living below the poverty line
 conflict and poverty are major causes –
 please refer to Emily Freeman’s slides in the
UN convention
(article 1)
to promote, protect
and ensure the full
and equal enjoyment
of all human rights
and fundamental
freedoms by all
persons with
disabilities, and to
promote respect for
their inherent dignity
 'dominant
groups in society reduce
minority culture to discourse of the other'
(Peeters 2000:588)
 'the
expression 'special needs' puts
together two of the terms most commonly
used in patronising euphemisms. Special
segregates' (Valentine 2002:220)
Time to Change
Erik Baurdoux
[email protected]
Lecturer in Statistics, LSE
A social movement for mental
health: individual support
50,000 + Facebook
 25,000 + supporters
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 Celebrity supporters:
Stephen Fry, Ruby
Wax, Ulrika
Jonsson, Alastair
Campbell, Fiona
Philips, Frank
2010: Introducing you to your
Getting people
to recognise
their part in the
Thank you
[email protected]
Invisible / Visible Disability
Erin Pritchard, Newcastle
Disability and Stereotypes
Jade: … I had wheelchair user tell me off once for using a disabled
toilet, because I wasn't in a wheelchair. I explained how I couldn't
reach the sink, the lock, the dryer or see the mirror. She still didn't
think that they were also for us, because that symbol seems to say
that it is specifically for them. There are four groups of disabled
people in this country, one you've got some sort of very obvious
facial or physical impairment such as a limb missing. Then there are
the people with learning disabilities, then the ones with sensory
impairments and then the wheelchair users. We don't fit into any of
those so we are not really disabled, yet we have the same barriers
and attitudes but probably a bit worse in some ways...Yet, we are
not considered disabled by the disabled community and by the wider
community. It's not a case of degrees of disability and who is more
disabled than others but people just don't get where we fit in.
Social Model
The social model does not deny the problem of
disability but locates it squarely within society. It
is not individual limitations, of whatever kind,
which are the cause of the problem but society’s
failure to provide appropriate services and
adequately ensure the needs of disabled people
are fully taken into account in its social
organisation. (Oliver, 1996, p. 32)
Psycho-emotional Disability
Psycho-emotional dimensions of
disabilism refer to barriers which affect
who people can be; for example dealing
with the thoughtless comments and stares
of strangers which can leave people with
impairments feeling psychologically and
emotionally undermined (Reeve, 2006)
Dwarfism and
Dwarf humour is historically common with
origins in the circus and is still evident in
contemporary comedy in a way that racist
humour probably isn’t (Martin, 2010).
Identifying themselves as
Self-identity arises from social interaction
with others – how we see ourselves is
affected by how others perceive and react
to us (Reeve 2006).
 The ways in which people with
impairments see themselves as disabled
or not is affected by interactions with other
people (ibid).
The Normal Body
‘…the most spectacular form of visual
novelty that can prompt stares are
breaches of the common human scale and
shape.’ (Garland-Thomson 2009: 161)
Dwarfs experience both physical and
social barriers which disable them
 Society needs to be more aware of the
various disabilities that exist
Deal, M. (2003) Disabled people’s attitudes towards other impairment groups: a hierarchy of
impairments Disability and Society 18 (7) 897-910
Garland-Thomson, R. (2009) Staring, Oxford University Press
Grosz, E.(1991) Freaks Social Semiotics 1 (2) 22-38
Imrie, R. (1996) Disability and the City Salisbury: The Baskerville Press
Kruse, R. (2002) Social spaces of little people: the experiences of the Jamisons, Social and
Cultural Geography 3 (2) 175-191
Kruse, R. (2003) Narrating Intersections of gender and dwarfism in everyday spaces The
Canadian Geographer 47 (4) 494-508
Martin, N. (2010) A preliminary study of some broad disability related themes within the Edinburgh
fringe festival Disability and Society 25 (5) 530-540
Oliver, M. (1996) Understanding disability: from theory to practice Basingstoke, Palgrave Press
Reeve, D. (2006) '‘Am I a real disabled person or someone with a dodgy arm?’: A discussion of
psycho-emotional disablism and its contribution to identity constructions', paper presented at
Disability Studies: Research and Learning, Lancaster University, 18-20 September.
Shakespeare, T., Wright, M. and Thompson, S. (2007) A Small Matter of Equality: Living with
Restricted Growth. Newcastle University
The Holist Manifesto
Challenging the social construction
of specific learning ‘difficulties’
On the one hand, we are:
On the other hand:
humiliated, categorised,
mislabelled, psychologised,
patronised, invalidated,
bullied, medicated, outcast
and imprisoned
science, sport, ICT,
leadership, comedy,
acting, creative arts and
Paradigm shift
‘Working Memory Difficulties’
“I have a terrible memory….I get upstairs and can’t remember what
I’m here for…”
….I can’t remember names, it’s
….I can’t remember my pin number, it’s so
The Myth of ‘Working Memory
Information can be processed
Sequentially or Holistically
Working memory
We have great Memories for
Meaningful information….
How things are structured….
How things feel….
The Bagatelle Model
Identity is forged
…in the Bagatelle of life
…through the comments of significant
…through self perception of strengths and
This divides us into distinct categories when
we have more in common that we have
Neurodiversity: ‘Overlapping conditions’
Socio-economic underpinning
This disabling process is held in place by the
primary social function of education:
…to fail a significant population and
persuade them it’s their own fault.
Education is both a class allocatory device and
designed to give the appearance that we live
in a meritocracy….
Reproduction of social power
relationships depends on:
schools determining :
1. What is to be learned (and what is not)
2. In what order
3. At what time.
4. And how it is ‘assessed’
“the imposition of cultural arbitraries”
Reproduction of social power
relationships depends on:
schools determining :
1. What is to be learned
2. In what order
3. At what time.
4. And how it is ‘assessed’
This enables sufficient failure, through
controlling the rules of sequence and the
boundaries we have to observe. It then leads
to ‘neurocentrism’.
We are unintended casualties
It is time to change the social
construction of specific learning
No-one will do it but us….
(we have nothing to lose but our
The Holist Manifesto
 Demands
 Vision
We are all neurodiverse. ‘Neurotypical’ is a myth.
The dyslexic experience is but one experience among many
that have the same underlying cause: a systemic intolerance to
holistic thinking.
Without us there would be an impoverished world for all
We are entitled to be different and to learn and work differently.
All of us with specific learning differences are disabled by an
intolerant world. Changing it requires solidarity among us all.
Changing it changes it for the better for all.
We Demand that:
There must be no policies about neurodiversity,
except those developed by and with those people
most affected by the policy implementation
There should be no teaching intervention without
representation- we have had enough of the tyranny of
There needs to be a zero tolerance to linear measures
of humanity and the insistence on linear sequential
teaching and communication strategies
Our Vision
The future of the world depends on allowing us to be different and
to learn and work differently. This involves:
– High interest learning based on passionate interest, rather than
an insistence on learning ‘the basics’.
– Flexible teaching that values purpose and personalised timing,
and ends the herding of children together by age to ‘learn’ a
national ‘curriculum’
– Nurturing the free association of ideas
– Encouraging problem solving, thinking outside the box, and the
creation of solutions rather than limit academic study to the
critique of others’ ideas.
The Holist Manifesto
Challenging the social construction
of specific learning ‘difficulties’
Unseen Disabilities: How to Cope
with Invisible Disabilities as an
Nathan Gyebi-Ababio
Presentation Summary
History of Medical Condition: 2008 - 2011
Impacts on Undergraduate Life at University
Impacts on Social Life at University
Coping Strategies: Managing Unseen
Disabilities at University
History of Medical Condition:
 Undergraduate2007Study Begins:
October 2007
– BSc Government: Very Interesting Course
– Flu-Like Symptoms in December 2007
– Severe ill health during Examination Period
 Diagnosis: Lupus Nephritis (SLE)
– Chronic and presently-incurable illness of the immune system
– Commonly causes damage to the Skin, Joints and Kidneys
– Can be fatal depending on the severity of the diagnosis
– Medication Requirements
History of Medical Condition: 2008 2011
 Second Year: 2009
– Completed Three of the Four 1st year Examinations
– Failed One – Carried over Two units into 2nd Year of Studies
– Completed Six Examinations in 2008
– Severe Flare Up (September 2009)
 Final Year: 2011
– Rehabilitation: One Year Suspension of Studies (2010)
– Begin Final Year in October 2011
Explaining my Condition
Who do I tell?
How much do I disclose?
Does it matter if I struggle?
Adapting to the changes in Physical Health
Pains and aches
Extreme Fatigue
Lack of focus during Lectures and Studies
Medication Intake
Side Effects
Impacts on Social Life at University
General Awkwardness
– Struggled to adjust to medical condition
– Lack of Self-Confidence
– Anxiety in Social Environments
Difficulties in Communication
– Incoherent Speech: Stuttering
– Sentence Construction Deterioration
– Short Attention Span: Forgetfulness
HAP Coping Strategy: Managing Unseen Disabilities at
– Be Realistic: Accept what you can and cannot do
– Be Helpful: Ensure the people that matter know your situation
– Be Pragmatic: Approach work and assignments in sensible manner
– Anticipate what work you will get – Plan further ahead than other students
– Give relevant members of staff advanced notice regarding extensions/difficulties
– Always keep evidence of all appointments/medical prescriptions
– Never stress about a situation you cannot change (Missed Readings and Essays)
– Understand the nature of your disability
– Relax: Members of Staff are always available at University to help YOU
Communicate honestly about your disability
with your tutor, teachers and fellow
undergraduates when necessary.
Be self-Aware; come to terms with your
limitations and work beyond them.
Understand that the more patience you have;
the more productive your studies will
Just because it is
unseen does not
mean that it
should go
Disability History
Fast Facts
Modern Era and Disability Activism
K.S.Beninger. May 2011.
Victorian Era
Empire, eugenics and segregation
 1859
Darwin's theories of evolution and
the notion of the survival of the fittest
through natural selection led to the
widespread and apparently scientifically
justified view of disabled people as
inferior. This view fuelled the trend for
 1883 Sir Francis Galton
introduced the notion of
Early 20th Century
Unions, organisation and the Great War
1907 The eugenics movement gains influence on
popular opinion in the USA. Between 1907 and
1943, 30 states passed sterilization laws aimed at
various “social misfits: the mentally retarded,
criminals and the insane.”
 School medical inspections made compulsory.
 1913 Mental Deficiency Act sets out to segregate
people with 'mental handicap' and prevent
procreation which would "repeat their type".
 1914 The outbreak of war in Europe meant huge
numbers of injured soldiers returning home requiring
support and 'rehabilitation'.
The 1920s - 1930s
Protest, war veterans and the Final Solution
1920 A national protest march by blind workers
against low wages and poor working conditions.
 1935 The League of the Physically Handicapped
formed in New York City to protest discrimination
by the Works Progress Administration (WPA).
The league's 300 people -- most disabled by polio
and cerebral palsy --all had been turned down for
WPA jobs. They eventually generated a couple of
thousand jobs nationwide.
 1939 WWII. Approx. 140,000 disabled people were to be
murdered by Germany's Third Reich, along with Jewish
people and many other minority groups as part of Adolf
Hitler's 'Final Solution‘.
 The extermination of disabled children and adults in Nazi
Germany became known as the T4 Project. Charitable
Foundations in Germany helped to select candidates for
The 1940s and 1950s
Charities, Beveridge and the Welfare State
1942 Beveridge Report published, calling for a new social
insurance system which will conquer the "five giants" of Want,
Ignorance, Squalor, Idleness and Disease.
1944 The Disabled Persons (Employment) Act. The Act made
provision for a disabled persons' employment register and the
3% disabled employee quota for companies employing more
than 20 workers.
The British Council for Rehabilitation of the Disabled is
1948 The National Health Service Act and the National
Assistance Act: the Labour government constructs the
'welfare state' with the introduction of the National Health
Service and the National Insurance scheme.
1954 The Spastics Society is formed - continuing the trend for
parent and carer-led charities.
The 1960s and 1970s
Roots of Empowerment and SelfDetermination
1960 A national rights demo by the Physically
Handicapped Association.
The first Paralympic Games were held in Rome and have
been held in every Olympic year since.
1961 American President Kennedy embraces a principle
of normalization in his push for community
services to manage
“the problems of mental
1970 Independent Living
Movement gains
momentum in
North America, led by
disabled persons.
The 1960s and 1970s
Roots of Empowerment and SelfDetermination
 1972
A disabled person, Paul Hunt, writes a
letter to The Guardian newspaper calling for
equality for disabled people. His letter
inspires the start of a united struggle against
 E-mail is invented by a hearing
impaired person named Vinton Cerf.
 1973 The Rehabilitation Act was
the first attempt to introduce
anti-discriminatory legislation in the USA.
 1975 United Nations Declaration of the
Rights of Disabled Persons, calls for full
economic and social integration of disabled
mobilising disabled people to demonstrate against
 Collective mobilization amongst disabled persons
led to the rise of political activism in the modern
 Disabled People's Direct Action Network (DAN)
is Britain's premier civil rights group and is
changing the way disabled people in Britain are
perceived by demanding civil rights, not charity
or pity.
 1970 USA advocacy organization ‘Disabled in
Action’ (DIA) formed. March on Washington to
protest for the
amendments to the Vocational Rehabilitation Act,
protests at inaccessible buildings, protest Jerry
Lewis paternalistic, pity-oriented telethons
 Cross-disability advocacy secured the
Americans with Disabilities Act (USA)
Direct Action
& Awareness
Abnormally Funny People
International Disability
Rights Milestones
1990 Americans with Disabilities Act passed after concerted effort
by a coalition of mental, physical and sensory disability rights
1994 UN adopts Standard Rules on the Equalization of
Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, setting international
1995 Britain's’ Disability Discrimination Act enacted, mandating
reasonable adjustments to policies and physical environments of
employers with disabled employees
2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
– ‘disability is an evolving concept…results from interaction between
persons with impairments and attitudinal /environmental barriers that
hinder full effective participation in society on an equal basis with others’
Other legislative activity promoting rights of disabled people:
Australia, Germany, Austria, Finland, Brazil, S. Africa, Malawi,
Uganda and Philippines.
A map of the world showing coverage of the UN
convention on disability. 147 signatories,99
Models of Disability in Transition
Medicalizes the
experience of
impairment. Searches for
cures, means of reducing
impairments, or
assessments of clinical
Impairment is a physical
fact but disability is a social
Recognition of
impairment as an
ordinary, rather than
an extra ordinary
characteristic of
human experience.
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