All month
Manchester Events

November 30, 2014 by richard

Manchester UKDHM Events

War and Impairment: The Social Consequences of Disablement, focusing on World War 1.

Manchester City Council, led by its Disabled Staff Group, marks UK Disability History Month with a series of free events linked to this year’s theme. Find out more about the impact of the First World War on the men disabled in combat and what happened on their return.

Free Events:

Hidden Histories of Disabled Veterans and the First World War
Wednesday 17 December 2014, 5.00 – 7.00pm.
FREE. Refreshments provided.
Two million men were disabled by World War one – what happened to them and to the wider society on their return from the war. Dr Ana Carden-Coyne explores these themes as part of UK Disability History Month. Hosted by Manchester City Council with Councillor Tracey Rawlins, lead member on disabled people’s issues. For more information email
Dr Ana Carden-Coyne is Senior Lecturer in War and Conflict, University of Manchester and is a leading disability history academic.

First World War: soldiers, shellshock and disability. A Manchester story.
Monday 1 December 2014 – Monday 5 January 2015.
Interactive digital exhibition telling the stories of those injured in battle.

International Disabled People’s Day
Wednesday 3 December, 12.30 – 1.30pm
Celebrate International Disabled People’s Day with us by joining a disability Archives+ handling session.

First World War: shellshock and disability. The untold stories. Monday 12 December 2014 until Monday 5 January 2015.
People’s History Museum in partnership with Manchester City Council is hosting this exhibition.


The Sensory War 1914 – 2014 exhibition continues until 22 February 2015.

For more details

All month
West Sussex Events for UKDHM

by richard

Independent_Lives_logoDisability History Month Events
Join Independent Lives as we celebrate Disability History Month across West Sussex in November and December 2014.
At each event we want to hear your stories and experiences about how disabled people’s lives have changed over the years. There will also be opportunities to share ideas about working together and our Speaking Up for Disability exhibition will be on display.
To book your place on any of the following events please contact Sophie Thompson on 01903 219482 ext. 218, or text phone 01903 823173 or email
If you have any accessibility requirements please let us know when booking a place.

Haywards Heath
Do you have an object or picture with a story behind it? Bring it along and share your memories.
Guest speaker: Suzanne Rose from the Mass Observation Archive.
Tuesday 25th November from 1:30pm to 4:00pm.
Haywards Heath Town Council, Room One, 40 Boltro Road, RH16 1BA.

Join in and share memories: bring along an object or picture to talk about.
Guest speaker: Dame Philippa Russell, patron of Carers Support West Sussex.
Tuesday 2nd December from 10:00am to 12:30pm.
Maybridge Keystone Youth Club, Raleigh Way, Goring-by-Sea, BN12 6JD.

Come and learn a brief history of disability in the Chichester area since the 16th century witch trials.
Guest speaker: Toby Hewson from Just Different, a charity that creates positive social attitudes towards disability and difference among children and young people.
Tuesday 9th December from 2:00pm to 4:30pm.
New Park Centre, New Park Road, Chichester, PO19 7XY.

4th October to 6th December
Voices of War and Peace – Birmingham

November 29, 2014 by richard

Voices of War and Peace logo

Voices Of War & Peace Birmingham Library & Museum

A series of events, workshops and discussions on WWI.

Of particular interest during UKDHM:
First World War Study Day: Medicine/Injury/Trauma/Treatment
Saturday 6 December 10am-5pm

Study day on the First World War and medicine/injury/trauma/treatment/disability.  Book online

Find out more about The Voices of War Exhibition and related events.

Disability history collections at The Children’s Society Archive

November 26, 2014 by richard

Here at the archive of The Children’s Society, we’ve kicked off UK Disability History Month by highlighting our disability history collections on our blog:

The blog post points towards the online resources we created during a project called Including the Excluded. This project focussed on our archives that relate to the care of disabled children over the past 130 years, with a catalogue of those records being produced as one of the results of the project.

Remploy- Disability and Employment: Reconciling the Irreconcilable?

November 25, 2014 by richard

25 Nov 2014 UK Disability History Month Blogs 2014:Disability and Employment: Reconciling the Irreconcilable?

Much of Anne Borsay’s work was driven by a heightened sense of social justice, and an underlying commitment to equality for all. It is not surprising then, that one of the many things she wrote so very astutely about, was the subject of disability and employment. Some of her views on this can be elicited from her pioneering work, Disability and Social Policy in Britain since 1750, first published in 2005. Indeed, ten years later, in the aftermath of Lord Freud’s recent controversial questioning of disabled people’s very basic human right to the minimum wage, Anne’s words remain incredibly pertinent:

The Disabled Persons Act of 1944 was perceived as bestowing upon disabled people the right to engage with the labour market and consequently achieve full citizenship. However, the act embodied the division between ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ workers.

It would seem that ever since, disability has been somewhat irrecoverably associated with unskilled work, and with employment rehabilitation centres that are orientated towards settling disabled people in manual jobs. Historically, policy has concentrated on finding fitting individuals to carry out jobs and compensating employers for taking them on.

Protesters against the planned closure of a Remploy site.

[Protesters against the planned closure of a Remploy site. Photo: Roger Blackwell on Flickr.]

In my own research on literary and cultural representations of disability in contemporary Wales, I looked closely at the prospect of securing alternative employment for disabled miners. As you might imagine, such opportunities were slim, but where they could be found, the productivity of disabled miners was closely monitored. In 1949 a study was commissioned by the government in order to ascertain the efficiency of groups of ex-miners disabled by pneumoconiosis who were then employed in the very few ‘light labour’ industries in South Wales. It was hoped that the findings would encourage more employees to provide work for these afflicted men. J. A. P. Treasure found (PDF) that such a study was difficult to conduct, not least because the efficiency of most types of labour (including coal mining) is measured directly by output. As most of the disabled men in his study were employed in light labour, store keeping and the like, they were seen as only ‘indirectly productive’. Consequently his work revolved around less-obvious measures of ‘efficiency’, including: absence from work, labour turnover, and accident rate. There is of course no necessary correlation between absence and efficiency on the job but the two are probably inversely related.

The most fascinating component of Treasure’s study, however, are the comments collated from a questionnaire that he issued to various employers of disabled ex-miners in South Wales, inviting them to comment on any aspect of these employees’ performance. For example, the manager of a factory in Porth employing three disabled miners provided pleasantly surprising feedback:

We would like to say most emphatically that these men show, in our opinion, a greater amount of keenness and interest in their work than normal men, and are most satisfactory employees in all respects.

So far, so good. However, the employers cited in Treasure’s study are shown to be particularly concerned about notions of ‘lost time’ that are accumulated by their disabled workers. Whereas one factory in Trefforest believed ‘the time lost to be practically nil’, another in Carmarthen reported that ‘the tendency was definitely more’. Overall, the survey showed average late-coming and sickness with no wanton absenteeism. One manager spat venomously that a number of his disabled employees ‘could be more gainfully employed if they could get over the fact that they are permanently ill!’

Aside from Treasure’s report, the South Wales Miners’ Library in Swansea has archived many pamphlets from the 40s and 50s about the formalities of employing disabled people, the claiming of ‘disablement’ benefits, and one very curious document published by The British Epilepsy Association in 1953. This pamphlet is much concerned with the impact and social consequences of having an epileptic fit in the workplace, saying: ‘If [a man’s] fits are infrequent or mainly nocturnal, shall he hide his disability when he presents himself for employment in the hope that he will not have a fit while at work? If this should happen, will he get the sack?’ The text goes on to express the need for more employers to be willing to employ epileptics on ‘safe’ jobs and to reserve such work for them, before listing some of the thoroughly condescending tasks that ‘epileptics can usually manage successfully’. For example: ‘French polishing, coach cleaning, store keeping and market gardening.’ Women with epilepsy are said to be capable of working in various types of domestic work ‘in hostels or hospitals.’ We are still only one generation removed from the widespread publication and dissemination of such disability-damning statements.

While the ableism, arrogance, and ignorance displayed in some of the above historical sources seems outrageous, it must be noted that even today there are marked divergences of opinion surrounding the employment of disabled people, not least within the disability rights movement itself. Such arguments normally revolve around issues of segregation from or integration with the nondisabled workforce. Nowhere can this opposition be illustrated more clearly than in the recent arguments around the closure of the Remploy factories in Abergavenny, Caerphilly, Cwmbran, Ebbw Vale, Neath Port Talbot, Swansea and Ystradgynlais between 1946 and 2013. When the last site closed, in a switch from ‘sheltered’ workshops to integrated support for people with disabilities in mainstream employment, the decision was polemically interpreted by localised disability groups, seen either as a long overdue progression from paternalist attitudes towards disability and work, or an unforgivable betrayal of people who were unlikely to find work anywhere else. What is clear that in a culture of continuing austerity where as few as 1 in 10 people with a learning disability have any kind of paid employment (a statistic that includes those working as little as one hour per week), and only 1 in 50 earn a ‘living wage’, the fight for employment equality for people with disabilities is nowhere near over. Not only was Anne Borsay one of the first to negotiate the historical and contemporary complexities of this issue in great depth, she was also one of the first to make these findings accessible to a non-specialist readership. For that reason (amongst many others) disability studies scholarship and the movement itself will forever be in her debt.

Georgia Burdett recently submitted her PhD at Swansea University on Cultural Representations of Disability in Contemporary Wales.

Borsay, Anne, Disability and Social Policy in Britain since 1750 (Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)

The Epileptic (1953) published by The British Epilepsy Association, 156 George Street, London, W.1. Paddington 0718/9 [Available at the South Wales Miner’s Library, Swansea University, 2011]

Treasure, J. A. P., ‘A study of the efficiency of groups of ex-miners disabled by Pneumoconiosis employed in light labour industries in South Wales’, The British Journal of Medicine, 3 (1949), 127-138 (PDF)

Guest post for Disability and Industiral Society’s UK Disability History Month Blogs 2014.
Remploy Strike

Liverpool Da Da Fest November to January

by richard

Edward RushtonCheck out thee oprogramme pascked with interesting and relevant events to coincide with UKDisability History Month

Swansea University Disability History Blog

November 22, 2014 by richard

I’m part of a history project at Swansea University based on disability history, and disability history month. We have been producing a blog focussed on one of the institutions in Swansea, and also at some of the wider themes. I was just looking on you website, and you mention about having projects posted on your website or even facebook? We were just wondering if you could share our blog with some of your followers? The address is

18th November 2014 6pm
Launch UK Disability History Month 2014, London

by richard

Dr-Brightons-War-630x325images (3)Women in RAF repair shop

Places limited RSVP to

You are invited to the 2014 Launch of UKDHM on Tuesday 18th November 6-8pm

War and Impairment: The Social Consequences of Disablement


Kings RoLL  Bolton

Unite House, 128 Theobald’s Road, London, WC1X 8TN

BSL signer available. Light refreshments and drinks will be served.


John McDonnell (MP)
Diana Holland (Unite the Union)
Mo Stewart (disabled veteran WRAF)
Katherine Araniello (disabled performance artist)+ 3 Short films
Paula Peters  (DPAC)
Richard Rieser (National Co-ordinator UKDHM)
Arthur Torrington (Windrush Foundation)
Chair: Sean McGovern (TUC General Council)

Blue Badge Parking in Old Gloucester Street and Boswell Street (either side of building) Nearest Tube: Holborn

Must RSVP: Richard Rieser on 07715 420 727 or email:

Download the invite

UKDHM Launch 2014

November 21, 2014 by admin

UKDHM 2014 was launched on 18th November, at Unite the Union

Videos of all the speakers can be found below:

Introduction from Chair Sean McGovern

Richard Rieser (UKDHM National Coordinator)

Mo Stewart (WRAF)
Read Mo Stewart’s speech here

Paula Peters (DPAC)

Diana Holland (Assistant General Secretary of Unite the Union)

Katherine Araniello

Arthur Torrington (Windrush Foundation)

Questions from the floor,
with responses from Richard Rieser, Mo Stewart and Paula Peters

John McDonnell MP

See Sarah Ismail’s blog post here

Stella Young Ted Talk-Against How Disabled People are seen as Inspiration Porn

by richard

Stella Young
A great talk by Australian disabled journalist and comedian challenging the common stereotype of viewing disabled people doing ordinary things as insopirational and instead talking about a social model approach.

Inspiration porn and the objectification of disability: Stella Young at TEDxSydney 2014 9.26 mins.

Published on 13 May 2014
Stella Young is a comedian, disability advocate and Editor of ABC’s Ramp Up website, the online space for news, discussion and opinion about disability in Australia.