Disability in the Early 20th century 1914-1945

March 23, 2016 by richard

Disability in the Early 20th century 1914-1945
This section describes the tension between different attitudes to disability at the beginning of the 20th century. The return home of disabled ex-servicemen from World War 1 challenged the widespread idea that disabled people were a ‘burden’ Historic England

https://historicengland.org.uk/research/inclusive-heritage/disability-history/1914-1945/



When the disabled were segregated. New Statesman December 2010

by richard

When the disabled were segregated
In the final part of her series to mark disability history month, Victoria Brignell explores the past. New Statesman BY VICTORIA BRIGNELL 15 DECEMBER 2010

Today the emphasis in Britain and America is on inclusion and independent living for disabled people. Most (though sadly not all) disabled people who want to do so are able to live in their own home. But this wasn’t always the case. For much of the 20th century, it was common in the UK and USA to segregate disabled people from the rest of society.

Large numbers of British and American disabled people were put away in institutions on the grounds that it was for their own good and the good of society. For example, in 1913, the passing of the Mental Incapacity Act in Britain led to around 40,000 men and women being locked away, having been deemed “feeble-minded” or “morally defective”. Many disabled people living in hospitals, special schools and care homes are known to have suffered severe emotional and physical abuse.

Institutions regularly regarded their disabled residents as second-class citizens and showed them little respect. Staff often made little attempt to empathise with disabled people’s experiences, denying them autonomy, choice and dignity and at times deliberately causing them pain and discomfort. In care homes and special schools for disabled children, there was sometimes hardly any attempt to meet the children’s emotional needs or acknowledge their individual identities.

In Pride against Prejudice by Jenny Morris, one disabled woman recounts her childhood experiences of living in various institutions in England in the 1940s and 1950s. In one place, disabled children had to go outdoors at 6am every morning and weren’t allowed to put bedclothes over themselves at night. For half the day they were not permitted to speak so they spent much of their time making paper darts and trying to throw messages to each other. Children never had their own toys and when they were sick they were expected to eat their own vomit. When the girl’s father gave her a doll for her 11th birthday, the staff wouldn’t allow her to keep it.

If the nurses took a dislike to a child they would hold her under the water in a bath until she started to go blue. A group of children would be assembled to watch what was happening. On one occasion, the nurses held a child under the water for too long and the child drowned. It was impossible for the children to tell the outside world about what went on inside the institution. All letters written by the children to their parents were censored and staff were always present when the children had visitors.

In the late 1960s, a report by Margaret Oswin into a British hospital which provided long-term residential care for children with “severe chronic handicaps” was highly critical of the service the children received. Her research discovered an impersonal regime where the children’s possessions were numbered and staff did not play or talk effectively with the children. Not only did the institution have substandard toilets but children in the upstairs wards had no access to the grounds.

A woman who lived in a British “mental deficiency institution” from 1952 for 16 years was interviewed by D Atkinson, M Jackson and J Walmsley for their book Forgotten Lives. She remembered: “The worst thing was I couldn’t wear my own clothes. You had to wear other people’s”. The beds were so close together there was no space for each resident to have their own locker. They had to help themselves to clothes from one big cupboard in the ward.

In the 1950s and 60s, at one hospital for people with mental health problems, patients could only have one bath a week and toilets only had half doors so people’s feet and heads were visible. At another psychiatric hospital, people who did something wrong were forced to wear their nightgowns all day. Patients weren’t allowed out and couldn’t have visitors. If they wet themselves, they were punished. Staff would beat up patients in the toilets at night.

Institutions sometimes had humiliating admissions rituals. One care home for people with learning disabilities used to forcibly cut girls’ hair when they arrived. A girl recalled with sadness: “I had lovely hair right down my back and they cut it.” If residents put up resistance, they were tied in a chair while the cutting took place and then locked in a dark room for up to half an hour before being injected.

Some British special schools used to be harsh establishments with tough discipline and rudimentary conditions. At one school, children were referred to as animals and forced to wear dishevelled clothes. If they misbehaved they might be split up from their friends. One child with a spinal deformity, a heart condition and only one lung was made to go on long walks during which she was pushed and shoved by the care staff. Whenever she sat down in the road, exhausted with the effort and desperate for a rest, she was pulled to her feet again.

As late as the 1950s, a number of special schools are known to have punished children for bed-wetting. In one case a girl was forced to stand in a corner with her wet sheets tied around her neck. In another special school, children were given so little food, they resorted to eating toothpaste and grass.

For many disabled children, British hospitals in the first half of the 20th century were places of torture where medical professionals performed repeated and futile operations to try to “perfect” their bodies. There are many harrowing examples of excessive, unnecessary surgery in Humphries and Gordon’s study Out Of Sight. One boy, born in 1918 with “severely deformed hands and feet which prevented him from walking”, grew up in an institution for “crippled children” which regularly sent him to hospital for surgery.

“It was so frightening,” he remembered later in life. “In and out of hospital all the time…The hospital would ring up and say, ‘Right, let’s have him in for another op.’ And off I’d be sent for some more torture at the hospital.” His parents could not afford to visit him because the hospital was such a long distance from where they lived. But even if the hospital had been closer it would not have made any difference because it didn’t allow the children to have visitors anyway.

Children who contracted polio in Britain in the 1940s and 1950s often had to stay in hospital for lengthy periods and found it a traumatic experience. As well as enduring long separations from their parents, they commonly had to endure brutal nursing care. One man featured in T Gould’s A Summer Plague and Anne Borsay’s study Disability and Social Policy in Britain since 1750 described how, despite the fact he had difficulty swallowing and breathing, the nurses would hold his nose when he didn’t want his food and force greens down his throat.

Care homes, long-stay hospitals and special schools in America were on the whole no better than their British counterparts. Before the 1960s, disabled Americans who also happened to be black were particularly likely to suffer in the hands of institutions. Many black disabled Americans had to endure harsh living conditions, poor medical treatment and overcrowding. According to a recent book by Rebecca Skloot, one long-stay hospital for black disabled people near Baltimore had more than 2,700 patients in the 1950s, 800 more than its official maximum capacity.

Black men, women and children with disabilities ranging from dementia to epilepsy were housed by this institution in poorly ventilated cell blocks and windowless basement rooms with drains on the floor instead of toilets. Those who had beds usually slept two or more to a mattress, lying head to foot. If someone misbehaved they were tied to their bed or kept in a locked room. Patients were not separated by age or sex and often included sex offenders. In 1948, the only year figures are available, its death rate was far higher than its discharge rate and the hospital averaged only one doctor for every 225 patients.

There are numerous stories of German doctors under the Nazi regime using disabled patients as subjects for horrific medical experiments. But an obsession with experimenting on disabled people was not confined to Germany. Hospitals in Britain and America were also keen to experiment on disabled people in the first half of the 20th century.

In the 1920s, teeth and tonsils were regularly extracted from people with mental health problems in Britain because it was thought these parts of the body might harbour infections which could generate mental impairments. Some British psychiatric patients were given malaria to see if it would cure their mental illness. Barbiturates were often administered in the 1930s to deliberately induce a prolonged narcosis. It was widely believed that this would break faulty thought patterns. A number of psychiatrists advocated insulin coma therapy – cutting the patient’s blood sugar levels to send him or her into a deep state of unconsciousness. Cardiazol was also injected into some patients to stimulate an epileptic fit. A survey in 1938 showed that 92 British institutions were using insulin coma therapy and cardiazol with more than 3500 patients undergoing one or other of these treatments.

By the 1940s, electroconvulsive therapy had become popular among British doctors who believed that passing electrical currents through the brain was a quick and cheap way of producing a shock in their patients. They also regularly practised psychosurgery, the most common form of which involved severing nerve fibres within the brain. Despite the serious side-effects, more than 10,000 such leucotomies were carried out in the 12 years from 1942.

In America, some scientists used to regularly conduct research on disabled patients without their consent. At the hospital near Baltimore, one study involved taking x-ray images of the brains of epileptic children in the hospital. Researchers drilled holes into the skulls of these young patients, drained the fluid surrounding their brains, and then pumped air or helium into the skull in place of the fluid to allow clear x-rays of the brain to be taken. (This fluid protects the brain from damage but makes x-ray images cloudy). Not surprisingly, this technique produced horrendous side-effects including severe headaches, dizziness, seizures and vomiting – side-effects which could last for two to three months until the body naturally refilled the skull with fluid. In the worst cases, the technique caused permanent brain damage and paralysis. In another study, entitled “The Use of Deep Temporal Leads in the Study of Psychomotor Epilepsy”, metal probes were inserted into patients’ brains.

Of course, institutional abuse of disabled people occurred in other countries as well, not just in Britain and America. There is a moving account of neglect and cruelty at a long-stay hospital for children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities in Australia in the 1960s. This was a place where children were expected to live without any affection. Nurses were discouraged from cuddling the children and parents were not allowed to give their children toys or clothes. Little attempt was made to give the children any mental stimulation. Televisions were provided but for the benefit of the staff rather than the children. None of the staff took the trouble to try to communicate with those children who had speech impairments. Many of the children communicated with each other for years while the staff assumed they were making unintelligible, meaningless noises. If a child cried, the policy was to punish him or her. This punishment consisted of locking the crying child in a small dark storeroom.

Mealtimes were particularly barbaric. All the children were expected to eat lying down, even those who were capable of sitting up. The children’s heads would rest on the nurse’s lap with their bodies lying across a chair placed in front of the nurse’s legs. They were fed like birds with their heads tilted back. As gravity pulled the food straight to the back of the throat, they didn’t have any chance to chew. Children were not given any opportunity to shut their mouths and they ended up with food piled high on their faces because they couldn’t swallow it at the rate the nurse spooned it in. Each nurse was required to feed 10 children in just one hour.

Of course, not all disabled people in Britain and America were consigned to living in institutions before the disability rights movement came into being. Some did live independently in the community or were helped by their families. But living outside an institution did not guarantee respect or dignity. The so-called ‘Ugly Laws’ in the USA used to place restrictions on the movement of people whose physical disability might offend or frighten able-bodied people. These laws prohibited the appearance of people who were ‘diseased, maimed, mutilated or in any way deformed so as to be an unsightly or disgusting object or improper person… in or on the public ways or other public places’.

American society also became an increasingly hostile place for deaf people during the 19th century. In the early 1800s, sign language was a widely used and valued language among teachers at schools for deaf people. But from the 1860s onwards, there was a concerted campaign to banish sign language from classrooms and replace it with lip reading and speech only. Oralists condemned sign language, claiming it encouraged deaf people to associate only with each other and to avoid the hard work of learning to communicate with people who spoke English. By the start of the 20th century 40% of American deaf students were being taught without the use of sign language. This rose to 80% by the end of World War I. Despite the fact that most deaf people rejected oralist philosophy, oralism remained the orthodoxy in American schools for deaf people until the 1970s.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, disabled people in America were exploited as a source of entertainment. Freak shows of people with physical or mental abnormalities could be seen at circuses, fairs and carnivals. But this phenomenon continued for much longer than people think. As late as the 1970s, it was possible to see disabled people touring the USA as performers in a troupe called Sideshow. The members of this modern day freak to show included accident victims with no medical insurance and a Korean War veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder who had tried to take his own life by overeating but then decided to make his living as the “fattest man in the world”.

Institutionalisation is not a phenomenon of the dim and distant past either. The move towards widespread independent living in the community is a relatively recent development. Although criticisms of residential care grew in the years after 1945, there was ironically an expansion of segregation of disabled people after World War II.

As recently as 1982, a 23-year-old London woman who became tetraplegic was sent to live in a long-stay hospital. Her social worker found her a place at the Putney Home for Incurables and told her this was the only option available to her. She wasn’t given any choice in the matter. The building had large rooms with high ceilings and minimalist, clinical decor.

After some deliberation, the tetraplegic woman decided instead to live in a hospital run by a religious charitable trust. Although the nursing care was of a high quality, she had no control over the most basic aspects of her life and no freedom of movement. She didn’t even have a say over which posters decorated the wall by her bed. When the nurses put up religious posters, the woman didn’t feel able to ask for them to be taken down. Eventually, when she plucked up the courage to refuse to attend the religious services held on the ward, she was classified as a ‘difficult patient’.

During the 20th century, disabled people forced to live in institutions in Britain and America were often mistreated and denied the opportunity to make basic choices about how they lived their lives. Staff accounts, official reports, academic research and the testimonies of disabled people themselves all provide plentiful evidence of inhumane practices and violations of fundamental human rights.

In this column I’ve given just a few examples of the ways in which disabled people in institutions have been abused and neglected. They are just the tip of a very large iceberg. Throughout history, disabled people have been denied a voice, denied the chance to tell the outside world about their experiences. The real scale of the suffering will never be known.

While British and American disabled people still suffer discrimination, poverty and lack of opportunities, there is no doubt they are now able to participate in society to a degree that previous generations could only have dreamed about. When I compare my life with those of disabled people who have gone before me, I thank my lucky stars that I was born towards the end of the 20th century.

In this article, Victoria gives her personal views. These are not the views of the BBC.

Victoria Brignell works as a radio producer with the BBC. After reading classics at Downing College, Cambridge, she undertook journalism training at Cardiff University. She lives in West London and is 30 years old and is a tetraplegic wheelchair-user.



The Falsification of History: The Twenty Year Burial of the Civil Rights Bill Action,

March 22, 2016 by richard

The Falsification of History: The Twenty Year Burial of the Civil Rights Bill
Action, Nov 08 2015 by Bob Williams Findlay

It’s often said that history only remembers the victors. Recently, the Equality and Human Rights Commission produced a video to, and I quote, “Celebrate twenty years since the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act in 1995.” For disabled people who were involved in the struggle to have the inequalities we face acknowledged and addressed, I doubt there are many of us who will be putting the flags out or popping champagne corks in celebration of the Act itself.

The bulk of us who were actively involved remain true to the belief that the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) was a significant defeat for disabled people and the struggle against social oppression. This is not to say the passing of the DDA had no positive impact upon disabled people’s lives or had no influence on social change, it did, but acknowledging this shouldn’t detract us from recognising the fact the DDA restricted our progress, was of limited use to disabled people and was never likely to challenge the status quo.

It is impossible to produce a balance sheet of the DDA’s true impact because all kinds of external factors operate to mask the truth. It can be argued that the overall struggle for anti-discrimination legislation and specific actions such as the Campaign for Accessible Transport were more instrumental in bringing about organic social change. Over the last twenty years the whole of society has radically changed, and how disabled people have been both seen and treated have been part of that process whether that’s been via Tony Blair’s “rights and responsibilities” agenda or the neoliberal business case for ‘including disabled people’.

To fully appreciate our position on the DDA it is necessary to strip away the sugar coated presentation of this historic piece of legislation in order to reveal how the collective voice of disabled people and their many allies were silenced by acts of betrayal and brute force. The real story isn’t really about the twenty years since the passing of this piecemeal, ineffectual and oppressive Act, but rather it is about how the Civil Rights Bill and the ideas contained within it were buried both physically and politically by those who felt threatened by the potential impact it would’ve had on society.

The aim here is not to romanticise the campaign for full civil and human rights for disabled people, but instead to recall the major events that led up to the Tories introducing their own Disability Discrimination Bill in order to head off the Private Member’s Bill on Civil Rights Bill and why the passing of the DDA should be viewed as a significant and negative watershed in our emancipation struggle. Neither is it possible to critique the nature or merits of the Disabled People’s Movements campaign, although there’ll be signposts to various opinions on it.

Over the last twenty years we have seen various ‘interpretations’ of the struggle for our emancipation and many of these place tremendous emphasis on the fact that legislation was adopted to give disabled people ‘rights’. Here is a lengthy quotation from one such interpretation:

‘The Disabled People’s ‘Rights Now!’ campaign had a rich and diverse membership, including representation from many trade unions. It encompassed direct action, mass lobbies of parliament, petitions and awareness-raising campaigns to support civil rights for disabled people, and the issue was raised in Parliament on 14 separate occasions. The campaign won over a number of MPs and Peers, including Alf Morris, Roger Berry, Tom Clarke and Harry Barnes, who provided much needed political support and sponsored various Disabled People’s Civil Rights Private Members Bills.

The campaign reached a turning point in 1994 when the Conservative Government and the then Minister for Disabled People Nicholas Scott were found to have misled Parliament by stating that the cost of implementing civil rights legislation for disabled people would be greater than the sum previously calculated by civil servants.

In 1995, the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) became law and although it was a watered-down version of what disabled people wanted, it was nevertheless a huge victory for the Rights Now! campaign.’ (Aspis, 2011:3)

There are many aspects of this account that needs to be placed in a wider context and, as a consequence, it can then be viewed differently. Let’s begin by looking at important historical moments as a backdrop to the Rights Now campaign. Barnes and Oliver remind us that:

…the move by disabled people to form their own organisations…
fostered a growing collective consciousness amongst disabled people…. [which] began a process of reformulating the problems of disability, shifting the focus away from the functional limitations of impaired individuals towards contemporary social organisation with its plethora of disabling barriers. It also set in train a political divergence between organisations for the disabled and organisations of disabled people. (Barnes and Oliver,1991: 4)

The political divergence spoken about here between organisations for the disabled (sic) and organisations of disabled people permeates right through the history of the struggle for anti-discrimination legislation and beyond. Significantly, Barnes and Oliver go on to say:

Many of the traditional organisations for the disabled had advised the government that discrimination was not a problem for disabled people and that legislation was unnecessary. Yet in 1979, the Silver Jubilee Access Committee drew attention to a number of ‘blatant acts of discrimination against disabled people. The official committee which investigated the allegations was unequivocal in its findings: discrimination against disabled people was widespread and legislation was essential. (Barnes and Oliver,1991: 5)

Ian Bynoe picks up the story when he writes:

….1992 marks the tenth anniversary of the publication of the Report of the Committee on Restrictions against Disabled People
(CORAD).This is the only report on disability and discrimination ever to have been received by a UK government. It found discrimination to be commonplace in the experience of disabled people and recommended anti-discrimination legislation. Its
proposals were dismissed by the government of the day and there has since been no evidence of a change of mind to revive hopes that the CORAD proposals might be implemented. (Bynoe, 1991: 1)

For the record the CORAD committee defined discrimination as: ‘the unjustifiable withholding whether intentional or not, of some service, facility or opportunity from a disabled person because of that person’s disability’ (Large, 1982:7)

The stark reality is that since the early 1980s there were no less than fourteen attempts to introduce anti-discrimination legislation via Private Members Bills largely introduced, but not exclusively, by backbench Labour MPs. Not only did each fail, they nearly all followed a similar pattern where in Parliament the Tory spokesperson would state that, ‘there was nothing but good will towards the disabled’, and of course, ‘education was better than legislation’ if any problems were to exist. On the other hand, the supporters of the various bills would mainly focus upon employment issues. Meanwhile outside of Parliament there was the ritualised farce of the big disability charities shipping in bus loads of disabled people to parade around Parliament Square before sending them home again.

Barnes and Oliver inform us that:

The formation of Voluntary Organisations for Anti-
Discrimination Legislation (VOADL) was a sign that many organisations for the disabled had been converted to views articulated by disabled people themselves. However, there
remain, perhaps inevitably, significant differences between the
philanthropic and liberationist elements of the disability lobby.
(Barnes and Oliver,1991: 5)

Those of us who were involved with VOADL and later, Rights Now, might take issue with the view that the “for” organisations were actually ‘converted’ to the views held by disabled people. Their practice then and since would cast a long shadow over this assumption. An alternative view is that for a long time disabled people’s organisations were only granted observer status within VOADL however the growing momentum behind the British Council for Disabled People’s campaign for anti-discrimination legislation (ADL), began to shift both the focus and the exercising of power and so this ‘conversion’ by the charities had more to do with their fear of being outflanked by BCODP than [it did to] any serious commitment to disability politics.

John Evans provides us with information on BCODP’s campaign when he says:

It was 1991 when BCODP (British Council of Disabled People) which is the national, representative and democratic organisation of disabled people in the UK launched its ADL campaign as its future main objective. (Evans, 1996: 2)

There are two important points raised here. Firstly, the fact BCODP made this their main campaign has been debated off and on within the Disabled People’s Movement ever since and it’s an issue that continues to divide opinion. This article isn’t the place to unpack the issues, however, the significance of the decision will be returned to later. Secondly, a major contribution to the launch of BCODP’s ADL campaign was the publishing of commissioned research undertaken by Colin Barnes into discrimination against disabled people in the UK. Evans points out that “Discrimination and Disabled People in Britain” was so comprehensive ‘…. it provided more than enough evidence supporting the whole case for ADL and it became a very useful tool in the campaign and a symbol for empowerment and inspiration. It was the first authoritative piece of research done in this area and was carried out by disabled researchers and disabled experts.’ (Evans, 1996: 2)

The momentum generated by BCODP’s campaign and the emergence of the Disability Action Network (DAN) made VOADL look staid and stuffy. As mentioned previously the differences between the philanthropic and liberationist elements of the disability lobby became increasingly marked. The Executive Committee of BCODP recommended that VOADL had a make-over and with a bloodless coup, Rights Now was launched under the stewardship of the Disabled People’s Movement. John Evans again broadly captures the period between 1992 and 1994 when he writes:

Direct action no doubt heightened the profile for the need for civil rights legislation in the eyes of the general public and did a lot to shake up the politicians complacency on the issue but it could never be enough by itself. Without the lobbying of parliament and meetings with politicians putting forward constructive arguments based on available evidence of discrimination and seeking their support the cause would have been lost. Any changes in the law have to be done through Parliament so you have to get some politicians fighting for your cause. At the same time disabled experts and lawyers have to work alongside other lawyers and politicians in writing up the Bill. This work was co-ordinated by a group called the Rights Now…. which was a coalition of about 50 disability organisations and charities who were formed to work together to help bring about ADL. (Evans, 1996: 3)

Two central features mark the difference between VOADL and Rights Now. Disabled people drove the agenda and increased the public profile of the ADL campaign, but at the same time worked directly with members of parliament to put together the Civil Rights Bill. Many of us believe that this displacement of the ‘big six’ disability charities resulted in them watering down their commitment to full and comprehensive legislation and a growing willingness to accept compromise as the price of regaining their power position over disabled people. This watershed moment sees the birth of what has subsequently become ‘Janus politics’ – where the charities look back towards the radical language and concepts from the Disabled People’s Movement, but actually creates ‘new meaning’ which transforms them into tools which then help maintain their status. For example, the concepts ‘independent living’ and ‘choices and rights’ now employed by organisations such as Scope and Disability Rights UK are a million miles from their original meaning.

Mike Oliver noted that:

Speaker after speaker from non-representative organisations for disabled people claimed the social model as their own in the Trafalgar Square demonstrations of 1994. Additionally, the Disability Rights Commission established in 1997 by the New Labour Government declares that it is guided in everything it does by the social model of disability. (Oliver, 2004: 28)

Caroline Gooding and Bob Findlay advised the opposition parties on behalf of Rights Now, including writing a briefing paper on the social model and the definition of disability. Once in power New Labour set up a Disability Task Force, but this body steadfastly declined to change the traditional definition of disability to one in keeping with the social model.

Stepping back a little, the first test for the new wave militancy and Parliamentary campaigning came when Harry Barnes tried to push through the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill.

Ian Parker, in an article called ‘SPITTING ON CHARITY’ which appeared in the Independent, wrote:

In May 1994, however, a private member’s bill, the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill, was killed messily by the Government, and the minister for disabled people, Nicholas Scott, eventually had to resign. (Parker, 2011: unpaged)
Doc13

This caused an outcry and came about because as Parker acknowledged:

Last year – another Great Leap Forward – the civil rights argument was won. At some point, legislation may follow. (Parker, 2011: unpaged)

Parliament was finally ready to pass ADL, but the Tories and big business weren’t prepared to see the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill go through. As Lorraine Gradwell states, ‘… the Tory government were so concerned about the increasing popularity of anti discrimination legislation that they brought forward this fudge of a compromise’.(2015)

Their only course of action was to head off our Bill by introducing the weaker Disability Discrimination Bill led by William Hague. This was eventually passed into law twenty years ago as the Disability Discrimination Act.

What followed was a two horse handicapped chase. Roger Berry picked up the gauntlet and re-introduced the Civil Rights Bill, but Hague had the advantage of proposing a Bill supported by the Conservative John Major government. It was under these conditions that the ‘big six’ charities made their move.

Parker reports:
Thanks to his position at the head of a fairly well-funded “for” organisation, and thanks to his support for incremental methods, and thanks to his recent claim to see some (flawed) virtue in the Government’s Disability Discrimination Bill, Massie is regarded with great hostility by many “fundamentalists”. Rachel Hurst, a radical with a sharp political sense, says, “Our voice has been shut out by the established charities. Some staff at Radar I’ve got more time for than I can say. [But] I wouldn’t mind shooting the man at the top. He is an Uncle Tom, Mr Massie… He actually doesn’t care a toss about the rights of disabled people.” (Parker, 2011: unpaged)
Evans also recalls in 1996 that:

The DDA took only 6 months from beginning to end in becoming law.

Unfortunately the DDA was flawed from the start as being a weak piece of legislation which was unenforceable and was considered a drop in the ocean, as it was certainly not going to protect disabled people from the many forms of discrimination which existed. It outraged the disability movement because it denied them the fully comprehensive civil rights legislation which they had worked so hard campaigning for and consequently they refused to have anything to do with it. (Evans, 1996: 4)

Perhaps even more forcibly Marian Corker wrote in ‘The UK Disability Discrimination Act – disabling language, justifying inequitable social participation’:

What has been ‘achieved’ is a legal instrument that has variously been described as ‘confusing, contorted and unsatisfactory’ (Gooding 1996); ‘a dissembling law not an enabling statute’ (Doyle 1997: 78); and ‘one of the most ill-conceived pieces of legislation ever to reach the statute books’ (Corker 1998: 115). This is the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) (Corker, 2000)

She went on to say:

However, there is little doubt that the DDA represents a muddled combination of prohibition, justifiable discrimination and reasonable adjustment that can themselves act as a barrier to claimants who may be ‘isolated, possibly ill-informed and under-resourced’ (Gooding 1996: 6). Further, because the DDA legally justifies direct discrimination on the grounds of ‘disability’ in what Gooding (1996: 6) describes as ‘dangerously vague’ terms, and fails to incorporate a notion of the indirect discrimination experienced by disabled people, it seems an ineffective legal instrument for tackling the institutionalised oppression of disabled people. (Corker, 2000)

The DDA, unlike the Civil Rights Bill, wasn’t designed to tackle the institutionalised oppression of disabled people. Any hope of repealing and replacing the DDA with the Civil Rights Bill when New Labour came to power was quickly dashed. First, Labour’s Tom Clarke refuted BCODP’s claim that Labour in opposition had promised to do just that. Second, the Task Force already mentioned was hand-picked with more radical elements of the Disabled People’s Movement blacklisted throughout Labour’s terms in office. Margaret Hodge in 2000 when Minister for Disabled People, instructed the BBC to ‘edit out’ criticism of the DDA in its Disabled Century TV program. Third, Labour looked towards the new ‘Disability Movement’ driven by the charities and DPOs willing to buy into Blair’s ‘Third Way’ and the neoliberal market economy. Finally, it was New Labour who brought in Atos to hound sick and disabled people.

So, when we’re told the DDA was a victory, what does this mean? There has been a paradoxical development; just at the moment when inadequate legal rights were established for disabled people, the movement for emancipation was outflanked by the big disability charities and made an outcast by successive governments. Since 1995 the Disabled People’s Movement has gone into decline. Internal division and criticism followed the defeat of the Civil Rights Bill, with senior disabled activists accusing BCODP of ‘putting all its eggs in one basket’ by having ‘legislation’ as its prime focus and failing to cultivate grassroots structures and organisation.

Does this look like a victory? Merely getting legal recognition that disabled people have limited rights not to be discriminated against? Are they saying we should be celebrating being granted crumbs from their table? In 2005 the Public Interest Research Unit reported, ‘Ten years of the Disability Discrimination Act: Anniversary research indicates qualified failure.’

The DDA gave individual rights, but simply asked for employers and service providers to behave ‘reasonably’. The last five years in particular has witnessed savage attacks on both disabled people’s rights, services and lifestyles. A reverse of disabled people’s fortunes added to by the threat of legalised ‘assisted suicide’ is the reality, not this empty rhetoric of ‘equal citizenship’. Disabled people have been silenced and sidelined for the majority of the last twenty years apart from piecemeal changes in the social environment and attempts at tokenistic ‘inclusion’ here and there.

Now the whitewash begins. We see video clips from the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Scope on 20 years of the DDA, producing ‘false history’ via safe narratives and the worst of all, the Heritage Lottery Fund supporting Leonard Cheshire’s empire to write ‘disability history’ (sic). Ellis’s piece for the HLF on the DDA is another example of revisionism with a dash of criticism thrown in.

Those of us who lived and fought through the 1980s and 1990s see no cause to celebrate. Politically, we were defeated in 1995; our slogan, “Nothing About Us, Without Us”, has still to be realised. Although the last twenty years has been an uphill struggle to keep the fight for emancipation alive, we are seeing yet again a new wave of determination among disabled people; people who believe in freedom and social justice. These green shoots are what we should be celebrating today, not the results of the falsification of history written by our oppressors and shameful or misguided collaborators.

Notes:

Aspis, S. (2011:3) Campaigns in Action – Disabled People’s struggle for Equality
www.allfie.org.uk/docs/campaigns%20in%20action%20text%20only.doc

Barnes, C. and Oliver, M. (1991) ‘DISCRIMINATION, DISABILITY AND WELFARE: FROM NEEDS TO RIGHTS’ in Bynoe, I. et al.,
Equal Rights for Disabled People: A Case for a new law – IPPR.

Bynoe, I. (1991) THE CASE FOR ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LEGISLATION in Bynoe, I. et al., Equal Rights for Disabled People: A Case for a new law – IPPR.

http://disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/files/library/bynoe-equal-rights-for-disabled-people.pdf

Large, P., (1982) Report of the Committee on Restrictions
Against Disabled People

Evans, J. (1996) ‘THE U.K. CIVIL RIGHTS CAMPAIGN AND THE DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION ACT’

http://disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/files/library/evans-ADLWIEN.pdf

Oliver, M. (2004) ‘The Social Model in Action: if I had a hammer’, in Implementing the Social Model of Disability: Theory and Research edited by Colin Barnes and Geof Mercer (2004); Leeds: The Disability Press, pp. 18-31

http://pf7d7vi404s1dxh27mla5569.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/files/library/Barnes-implementing-the-social-model-chapter-2.pdf

Parker, I. (2011) ‘SPITTING ON CHARITY’ from the Independent,

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/spitting-on-charity-1614885.html

Gradwell, L. (2015) Comment on her Facebook page, 4th November.

Corker, M. (2000) ‘The UK Disability Discrimination Act – disabling language, justifying inequitable social participation’, in: The 10tk Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, edited by Anita Silvers and Leslie Francis, Routledge

http://pf7d7vi404s1dxh27mla5569.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/files/library/Corker-UKDDA.pdf

Additional material used as research:

Corker, M. (1998) Deaf and Disabled or Deafness Disabled? Buckingham: Open University Press

Doyle, B. (1997) Enabling legislation or dissembling law? -The Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Modern Law Review, 64

Gooding, C. (1996) Blackstone’s guide to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, London: Blackstone, in association with RADAR

Public Interest Research Unit (2005) ‘Ten years of the Disability Discrimination Act: Anniversary research indicates qualified failure’

http://www.piru.org.uk/press-releases/ten-years-of-dda

Ellis, L. (2015) ’20 Years of the DDA’, Heritage Lottery Fund

http://www.hlf.org.uk/about-us/news-features/20-years-disability-discrimination-act



Disabled People should vote Yes to Stay in Europe

March 21, 2016 by richard

Disabled People should vote Yes to Stay in Europe

As UK Disability Movement Rep on the European Disability Forum from 2004 to 2012 I fully endorse the position taken by Debbie Jolly and Richard Howitt. Disabled people in the UK are much better off in the EU and we should be playing a more active part in mobilising the 10 million disabled voters to vote to stay.
http://dpac.uk.net/2016/03/why-we-should-say-yes-to-the-eu/
http://www.richardhowittmep.com/index.php/18-02-2016-vote-to-remain-in-the-eu-for-the-europe-we-want-it-to-be-jeremy-corbyn-tells-richard-and-his-fellow-euro-mps-in-brussels

Let us learn the lessons of the history we have lived through. There is no doubt that we have gained a great deal in legislation on employment, transport, training, accessibility and Social Funds for training. The EU is enthusiastic about taking disabled people’s rights forward. In the UK successive governments—Labour, Coalition and Tory—have been doing the least possible to improve our position and indeed making it worse. Having EU legislation and directives as a fall back is in this situation is most important in safeguarding our rights. Because of the EU legislation:

  • Our buses, trains, stations, ferries, airports and air flights are accessible;
  • We have equal rights in employment and all employers have to make reasonable adjustments(various UK Government wanted to limit this to those who employ over 20;
  • The Blue Badge parking and access requirements operate throughout the EU;
  • Our Human Rights are supported and enhanced with institutions and hate crime opposed.

Gove, Johnson and IDS are all neo-conservative free marketeers who which to be rid of ‘red tape’ such as health and safety legislation and employment rights in a race to the bottom for ordinary people while they and their cronies get richer. Staying in Europe and building united opposition to this conception is the best thing for disabled people and working people.

We should not be seduced by xenophobic or racist ideas against immigration. We, ourselves, have and are subject to such prejudice and hate crime and should to know better.

Equally while those on the left arguing for exit claim the EU as a capitalist club- So the UK isn’t!!!

We must stay in Europe and fashion an alternative. The cross European Movement against austerity needs to campaign for a minimum standard of living for all citizens. The Disability Movement in all its fragments could start by unifying and turning outwards into Europe to work with the representatives of 80 million disabled people across Europe. The EU have ratified the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons ( without reservation, unlike the UK who put up 4 reservations) and has an active plan for its implementation including new legislation on Accessibility.

Richard Rieser, World of Inclusion and Coordinator UK Disability History Month



G2 Information Sheet The Camden Society: Our history

March 20, 2016 by richard

Jack Harris, founder, with members. Jack was 40 years ahead of his time, telling members they could do what they liked and he would treat them like adults.

Jack Harris, founder, with members. Jack was 40 years ahead of his time, telling members they could do what they liked and he would treat them like adults.

Founded in the living rooms of a group of parents in the London Borough of Camden in 1966, the Camden Society began life as a campaigning organisation.

Initially coming together to offer one another emotional and practical support, the Camden parents soon began to campaign for a more inclusive society for people with learning disabilities.

In social context

“ There are 120,000 or 130,000 feeble minded persons at large in our midst. These unhappy beings deserve our care and assistance, and deserve all that could be done for them, now that they are in the world, by a Christian and scientific civilisation. But let it end there if possible. If we  were able to segregate these people under proper conditions, so that their curse died with them and was not transmitted to future generations, we should have taken up our shoulders in our own lifetime a work of which those who came after us would owe us a debt of gratitude”. Winston Churchill Reported in The Times 15th July 1910.

This thinking turned into the building of large mental deficiency colonies and hospitals in rural areas where male and female, ‘improvable’ and ‘unimprovable’ children and ‘improvable’ and ‘unimprovable’ adults were all kept segregated from each other.

In 1966 children with learning disabilities were often sent away from their families at an early age, to be ‘cared for’ in long-stay institutions, sometimes for life. Others were excluded from the education system and were isolated from their communities. A number of reports and books had highlighted the emotional and social impoverishment, and the denial of the civil liberties of children in institutions across Britain.

The 1970 Education Act strengthened the case for change as it enshrined the idea that all children had a right to an education. Previously, children with learning disabilities had been judged as ‘ineducable’.

Great Stoney special school Ongar                           Infant class at Great Stoney 1940’s

Bringing people home from long stay hospitals

Throughout the next two decades, the momentum towards care in the community gathered, and the Camden Society was one of the first organisations to bring people home from long-stay institutions.

The effect on people’s lives cannot be overestimated. As Carol who lived in St Lawrence’s Hospital for 30 years says:

“I’m telling you that place was like a prison. You could not do what you wanted… You were not allowed to choose what you wanted to eat. If you didn’t eat up you were given a sop like a baby, a milk sop. You had to work whether you wanted to or not. Because otherwise you’d lose everything, no pleasures, nothing. You had to keep your hair tidy or they’d cut it, into a fringe… That’s if you were ‘in disgrace’.”

By the mid-1980s, the Camden Society had become a registered charity, offering supported living, leisure and training for work and  services to people with learning disabilities

What is supported living?

A disabled person gets the support they need to live in their own home. If the person’s needs change the support they get can also be changed. The most important thing is that the support matches the person’s needs. This means the supports are designed for the person…they fit the person, the person does not have to fit the supports. This helps the person to live in their community.

Common elements of supported living include:

  • Separation of housing and support
  • Support is provided by a combination of informal (non-paid) and paid support with intentional strategies used to develop informal support
  • Paid support is individualised, flexible and under the control of the disabled person

Where a service provider is involved, it stands beside the disabled person with and their family to develop and implement the lifestyle the person wants.

Where we are today

Since then, we have expanded these services and widened our remit to include people with physical impairments, people with mental health needs, and people who need additional support to maintain their independence. We now work across London and Oxfordshire, running supported living, training, employment and leisure services.

Today, we support over 600 people every week and employ 200 permanent staff with around 50 volunteers and an annual income of £9 million.

What is left to be done

Whilst the lives of disabled people have been significantly improved over the last four decades, there is still much work to be done.

Today only 10% of people with learning difficulties are in paid employment due to negative discrimination from employers, low expectations from staff and a lack of opportunity to train for, and enter, jobs.

The health needs of many people are left unmet, while the choice to live independently in housing that meet people’s needs, culture and lifestyle is too often non-existent.

Most people with learning disabilities continue to spend their days in segregated, Government-funded day centres or attend colleges, enrolling onto the same courses year after year, with little support to progress.

The hospitals and segregation have largely gone but until all disabled people have the support and freedom to develop their lives in whatever ways they choose, the Camden Society’s work will continue.

Conclusion

Since the 1940s the lives of people with learning difficulties have changed enormously. From being unseen, locked away, forgotten, they have gradually become visible, gained rights and come back into society.

The last long stay hospital in England closed in May 2009. More people with learning disabilities are now able to live in a home of their own, in the way that they want. Changes to the law, including human rights and equality legislation and the Disability Discrimination Act, have given people a set of enforceable rights. It is now illegal to discriminate against a disabled person  and these same laws have started to protect people from abuse.

The days of children with learning difficulties being judged ‘ineducable’ have passed. All families now have a right to choose the school they send their children to, whether it is mainstream or specialist. Leisure opportunities include people competing on an international level in Paralympics- a far cry from the occasional trip to a hospital canteen. Although only 10% of people with a learning difficulty have paid work in the UK today, employers are becoming increasingly aware of a largely untapped pool of talents and skills. Most importantly, young people now have different expectations of how their lives should be, a sense of place they want in society and how to get it.

These changes have come about through the determination, collective effort and resolute campaigning of people who believe in human rights-people with learning difficulties, their families and the staff, volunteers and trustees of organisations like the Camden Society.

More information http://www.thecamdensociety.co.uk



G1 Information Sheet Closure of Long Stay Institutions

by richard

G1 Closure of Long Stay Institutions Information Sheet
The long stay hospitals had often taken over from workhouse hospitals and mental asylums. When the NHS was set up the Mental deficiency hospitals also became part of the long stay provision. The lack of support, adjustments in the outside world and lack of human rights meant that numbers grew in the post war period. These places were understaffed and patients were often not encouraged to develop.
In the 1950s, such hospitals and colonies were getting overcrowded as people lived longer. A number of psychologists established that IQ was not fixed,that people with learning difficulties could learn new skills and could work. A 1957 Royal Commission had concluded that mental handicap was not a medical condition, and that no resident should stay in hospital, if they could be supported in the outside world. Outside of the institution, they could be ‘normalised’ – a Swedish concept advocating life in small houses in open society – this philosophy being integral to the Community Care Movement. Drugs enabled patients to benefit from training to make their behaviour more socially acceptable. Despite this, progress to deinstitutionalise was very slow.
A number of scandals led to more public concern about long stay mental hospitals. ‘Silent Minority’ aired on British television June 1981. This documentary spotlights allegedly appalling conditions at Borocourt Hospital, Reading, Berks and St Lawrence’s Hospital Caterham, Surrey. St Lawrence’s Hospital opened in 1871 known as the South London Asylum. In 1974, the hospital came to public attention with the publication of the book ‘Tongue Tied’ by Joseph (‘Joey’) John Deacon who had been a patient at the hospital since the age of eight in 1928. Joey had cerebral palsy. This was followed by the TV documentary ‘Silent Minority’ in which the hospital featured in an unfavourable light. http://www.derelictplaces.co.uk/main/showthread.php?t=11524#.UiNqxDbrzkR
Another scandal was At Ely Hospital, Cardiff
In July, 1967, the News of the World forwarded to the Minister of Health (We refer to the Minister of Health throughout this report as “the Minister”) a statement by a man we shall call XY, containing allegations of various forms of misconduct on the part of members of the staff at the Ely Hospital, Cowbridge Road, Cardiff. (We refer to the hospital throughout this report as “Ely”). XY’s statement was subsequently published (without disclosure of the identity of the hospital or any of the staff concerned) in the News of the World for Sunday, 20th August, 1967.
2. XY had been employed as a Nursing Assistant at Ely from 26th September, 1966, until 24th September, 1967. The full text of his original statement is set out in the Appendix to this Report. The allegations made, which all referred to the male wards at Ely, fell under the following general headings:
 Cruel ill-treatment of four particular patients by six named members of the staff;
 Generally inhumane and threatening behaviour towards patients by one of the staff members already referred to;
 Pilfering of food, clothing and other items belonging to the hospital or the patients;
 Indifference on the part of the Chief Male Nurse to complaints that were made to him;
 Lack of care by the Physician Superintendent and one other member of the medical staff.
The Enquiry largely upheld the allegations and called for reform of supervision and staffing and for independent inspections but not for the hospitals closure.
A process of running down large institutions and their replacement by Community Care began. The NHS policy of care in the community, rather than in large institutions, came to be more fully implemented with the Community Care Act 1990. Within 17 years all the large institutions had been closed. Disabled people were supported, living in small community homes or independently, with support.

Organistions of parents and then self advocates like People First began to challenge the segregation of children and adults with learning difficulties
An example is the Camden Society founded in 1966. See Info Sheet on the Camden Society.



F3 Plans for Mental Deficiency Hospitals 1919

by richard

Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 11.25.40Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 11.25.25



F2 KS3 Activity Mental Deficiency Meanwood Park

by richard

F2 KS3 Activity Mental Deficiency Meanwood Park
Ida Norman “ I was coming out of mill, Friday night, five o’clock we left, now I was excited cos I’d got my first wages you see. Then I was going down the hill through the tunnel and this man at the bottom , they called him Wormald… a lot of people.. He’s dead now. He said come on you’re going in my …I said look I’m not going in your car. I said you’ve been after me too much. He had a job to get me, but there was nobody you see”.
Geoffrey Kaye “ Going back home from school that’s how he got me. He had a car, Oh he said we’re going for a ride, where you taking me, your’ not taking me. He just didn’t say anything. He just took me to that place.”
The man they were talking about was Samuel Wormald, Mental Deficiency Officer, employed by Leeds City Council and he was taking them to Meanwood Park Colony for Mental Defectives. He was a man on a mission. ‘” By being allowed to repeat their type the feeble minded are increasing the ranks of the degenerate and wastrel classes with disastrous consequences to the entire country.”
In the i920s and 1930s Wormald rounded up more than 200 people in the Leeds area-school children, factory workers, mill girls all found themselves taken to Meanwood.
Following the 1913 Mental Deficiency Act where people classed as ‘idiot, imbeciles, feeble minded or moral defectives’ were rounded up, assessed and certified by two doctors and then kept in institutions. They were seen as a danger to society, mainly in term of having children and producing more ‘mentally defectives which would reduce the populations ability to work. Today we see these people as having the same human rights as everyone else and refer to them as disabled people with learning difficulties.
Meanwood Park was set on the outskirts of Leeds . Set in park and woodland it consisted of small houses around a central block with different classes of inmates cared for separately. All the work to run the establishment was carried out by the inmates. http://www.meanwoodpark.co.uk/
Watch slide show athttp://www.meanwoodpark.co.uk/insight/meanwood-park-hospital-1919-1996/
1. Describe the lay out and what Meanwood was like.
2. How did people often end up at Meanwood.
3. Write a letter home from Ida Norman soon after she was taken.
4. Describe how attitudes to people with learning difficulties have changed in the last 100 years
Sometimes people who had other impairments such as deafness or cerebral palsy who were disabled, but did not have a learning difficulty were also take in to the Colony. Watch the video clip
From the Channel Four Film Stolen Lives

5. Write about what happened to Geoffrey Abbot?
6. Why do you think such ‘mistakes’ were made?
Every County or large town set up mental deficiency hospitals and many people entered as children or young people and stayed the whole of their lives. They did not finally shut until 1990’s as many of the people who lived there just did not know how to look after themselves.



F1 Information Sheet the Mental Deficiency Act and Eugenicist Thinking

by richard

F1 Information Sheet the Mental Deficiency Act and Eugenicist Thinking
Eugenics is defined as ‘the science of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics’ and was a false science largely based on wrong ideas and statistics and prejudice and scapegoating.

In the C19th after Darwin published his theories on Evolution an increasing number of people thought these might apply to human beings and help get rid of those with criminal, immoral or drunken behaviour as well as those incapable of fully intellectually functioning-people with learning difficulties. All were described as being mentally deficient.
The introduction of compulsory education for all children in 1870 had shown that by 1880 47% of the elementary school population failed to reach Standard 4-the expected outcome. As teachers were paid by the results of their pupils pressure built up to address this mental deficiency in the lower classes.
The mentally deficient were classed as idiots, imbeciles, feeble minded and morally defectives. Long term unemployed, tramps, petty criminals, alcoholics and unmarried women who became pregnant were all seen morally defective.

The major concern was for the ‘stock’ or ‘gene pool’ and that if these groups were allowed to go on having children the British labour force would be not be able to compete with German or French workers and Britain and the British Empire would suffer decline.
Following a lot of campaigning particularly by the National Association of the Feeble Minded and the British Eugenics Society, a Royal Commission (1904)was set up to investigate the situation and make recommendations. In 1909 the Royal Commission identified 149,628 mentally deficient people in England and Wales, 65,509 were in proper provision with 6,990 in the workhouse and 4,700 on out relief, but large numbers not catered for who were seen as a threat.

Their dislike of the poor and lower orders was shown in believing they were inferior. The solutions put forward were ranged from extermination (Nazi Germany 1930’s and 1940’s) banning marriage between the mentally deficient ( USA and UK in 1920s) and others, compulsory sterilisation(USA in 37 states) and segregation in separate institutions or colonies away from the rest of the population with strict separation of the sexes. The ‘solution’ adopted in the UK.
1. Listen and Lee Humber talking about the origins of the Mental Deficiency Act 1913.
http://www.pulse-project.org/node/494
2. Now write down the main reasons for this Act of Parliament coming forward.

3. Now read the quotes below by a number of advocates of the segregation of the mentally deficient.

Mary Dendy, an active eugenicist campaigner in the 1890’s, in ‘Feeble Mindedness of Children of School Age’, asserted that children classified as mentally handicapped should be “detained for the whole of their lives” as the only way to “stem the great evil of feeble-mindedness in our country.”
“This is one of the most difficult of the many social problems confronting us today.It is however satisfactory to find that earnest efforts are being made to grapple with it and realise the elimination of degenerate stock is the way to provide high standards of racial vigour” W. Moorhouse, Chair Wakefield Board of Guardians, 1911

“Feeble minded women are almost invariably immoral, and if at large usually become carriers of venereal disease or give birth to children twice as defective as themselves. A feeble-minded woman who marries is twice as prolific as a normal woman… Every feeble-minded person, especially the high-grade imbecile, is a potential criminal needing only the proper environment and opportunity for the development and expression of his criminal tendencies. The unrecognised imbecile is the most dangerous element in society.” (Fenald, 1912)

“There was much debate about the loss of liberty for those with mental handicap in Parliament during the passage of the 1913 Mental Deficiency Act, but the liberty from which they required most protection was, in the view of society, the liberty to ‘repeat their type’ and thus increase the numbers of the degenerate and wasteral classes, with disastrous consequences for the entire community.” (Wormald and Wormald, 1914, ‘A Guide to the Mental Deficiency Act 1913’)

“The unnatural and increasingly rapid growth of the feebleminded classes, coupled with a steady restriction among all the thrifty, energetic and superior stocks constitutes a race danger. I feel that the source from which the stream of madness is fed should be cut off and sealed up before another year has passed.” Winston Churchill MP, Home Secretary at the time the Mental Deficiency Act of 1913 became law.
4. What are the main arguments that these campaigners are using. Make a list of these arguments.
5. For each of the arguments above say why you think they may be false.

The legal definition of Mental Deficiency in the 1913 Act was as follows.
IDIOTS – persons in whose case there exists mental defectiveness of such a degree that they are unable to guard themselves against common physical dangers.
IMBECILES – persons in whose case there exists mental defectiveness which, though not amounting to IDIOCY, is yet so pronounced that they are incapable of managing themselves and their affairs. Or, in the case of children, of being taught to do so.
FEEBLE-MINDED – persons in whose case there exists mental defectiveness which, though not amounting to IMBECILITY, is yet so pronounced that they require care, supervision and control for their own protection or for the protection of others. Or in the case of children, that they appear to be permanently incapable by reason of such defectiveness of receiving proper benefit from the instruction in ordinary school.
MORAL DEFECTIVENESS – persons in whose case there exists mental defectiveness coupled with strong vicious or criminal propensities and who require care, supervision and control for the protection of others.

6.What problems do you think administrators might have implementing this definition?

The new Intelligence measuring system developed by Binet, which tried to classify all the variety and richness of human thinking in one measure the Intelligence Quotient, was promoted as a way of classifying the various grades of mental deficiency.
Mild Mental Retardation
IQ = 50 to 70

Moderate mental retardation
IQ = 35 to 49
synonyms: imbecile; moderate mental subnormality
Severe mental retardation
IQ = 20 to 34
synonym: severe mental subnormality
Profound mental retardation
IQ under 20
synonyms: idiocy; profound mental subnormality

7. Listen to Lee Humber IQ http://www.pulse-project.org/node/495

8. What are the difficulties with trying to measure general intelligence?

In practice it was after the 1914-1918 War that Local Authorities started to really implement the mental deficiency Act by building many long stay colonies and hospitals and rounding up the mentally deficient and placing them there for life. Between 1920 when 10,000 people with learning difficulty were in institutions and 1946 when 60,000 were in institutions

9.Meanwood Park was built on the outskirts of Leeds in 1919 eventually housing 2000 inmates. Go to the website and read accounts http://www.meanwoodpark.co.uk/ and watch 7 minute film http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYcQMpDQeng&feature=player_embedded

10. Often people who were deaf or had cerebral palsy were incarcerated. Imagine you are one such person. Now write a letter to the Prime Minister as a person who was forcibly taken to Meanwood Park asking to be released and your reasons.

Endnotes
i. http://www.meanwoodpark.co.uk/a-resource/the-care-and-control-of-the-feeble-minded/
ii. The above classification can be compared to the following analysis of mental retardation in the International Classification of Diseases (9th revision – 1975): (Mental retardation is defined as intellectual impairment starting in early childhood.)



E4 Numbers per 1000 and Expenditure New Poor Law 1834 TO 1930

by richard

E4 Numbers and the New Poor Law