The Disability Discrimination Act 1995: The campaign for civil rights

November 6, 2015 by admin

From Scope:

November 2015 marks the twentieth anniversary since the Disability Discrimination Act became law in Britain. The law improved the lives of many disabled people and put anti-discrimination law on the statute book for disabled people.

However, it was the civil rights campaigners and activists who fought tirelessly to change the law that made this a remarkable moment in disability history.

We are marking this anniversary with a whole host of content on our website. Visit to find out more.

Photos courtesy of Baroness Campbell and Rachel Hurst.

Archive footage courtesy of ITN.

See  For an activist view that puts this celebration in A VRY DIFFERENT LIGHT.

Russell Howard interview with Jess Thom

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One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest

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The Elephant man – QED – Documentary – The True Story Of Joseph Merrick

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The Elephant Man

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Born Joseph Carey Merrick
5 August 1862
Leicester, Leicestershire, England
Died 11 April 1890 (aged 27)
The London Hospital, Whitechapel, London, England
Other names “Elephant Man”, John Merrick
Joseph Carey Merrick (5 August 1862 – 11 April 1890), sometimes incorrectly referred to as John Merrick, was an English man with severe deformities who was exhibited as a human curiosity named the Elephant Man. He became well known in London society after he went to live at the London Hospital. Merrick was born in Leicester, Leicestershire and began to develop abnormally during the first few years of his life. His skin appeared thick and lumpy, he developed enlarged lips, and a bony lump grew on his forehead. One of his arms and both of his feet became enlarged and at some point during his childhood he fell and damaged his hip, resulting in permanent lameness. When he was 10, his mother died, and his father soon remarried. Merrick left school at 13 and had difficulty finding employment. Rejected by his father and stepmother, he left home. In late 1879, Merrick, aged 17, entered the Leicester Union Workhouse.

In 1884, after four years in the workhouse, Merrick contacted a showman named Sam Torr and proposed that Torr should exhibit him. Torr agreed and arranged for a group of men to manage Merrick, whom they named the Elephant Man. After touring the East Midlands, Merrick traveled to London to be exhibited in a penny gaff shop on Whitechapel Road which was rented by showman Tom Norman. Norman’s shop, directly across the street from the London Hospital, was visited by a surgeon named Frederick Treves, who invited Merrick to be examined and photographed. Soon after Merrick’s visits to the hospital, Tom Norman’s shop was closed by the police, and Merrick’s managers sent him to tour in Europe.

In Belgium, Merrick was robbed by his road manager and abandoned in Brussels. He eventually made his way back to London; unable to communicate, he was found by the police to have Dr. Treves’s card on him. Treves came and took Merrick back to the London Hospital. Although his condition was incurable, Merrick was allowed to stay at the hospital for the remainder of his life. Treves visited him daily, and the pair developed quite a close friendship. Merrick also received visits from the wealthy ladies and gentlemen of London society, including Alexandra, Princess of Wales.

Aged 27, Merrick died on 11 April 1890. The official cause of death was asphyxia, although Treves, who dissected the body, said that Merrick had died of a dislocated neck. He believed that Merrick—who had to sleep sitting up because of the weight of his head—had been attempting to sleep lying down, to “be like other people”.

The exact cause of Merrick’s deformities is unclear. The dominant theory throughout much of the 20th century was that Merrick suffered from neurofibromatosis type I. In 1986, a new theory emerged that he had Proteus syndrome. In 2001, it was proposed that Merrick had suffered from a combination of neurofibromatosis type I and Proteus syndrome. DNA tests conducted on his hair and bones have proven inconclusive.

In 1979, Bernard Pomerance’s play about Merrick called The Elephant Man debuted, and David Lynch’s film, also called The Elephant Man, was released the following year. In late 2014 and early 2015, Bradley Cooper starred in a Broadway revival of The Elephant Man, directed by Scott Ellis.


The First To Go (Nabil Shaban)

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The most recent upload is the video recording of the entire two and half hour live performance “The First To Go” as presented at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow in 2008. I have subtitled the whole show, a) for deaf and hard of hearing viewers, but also b) because the audio quality is not consistently good due to the show being filmed from the back of the auditorium with a single camera and microphone.

This is the link to YouTube video.
“The First To Go”

Everyone knows about the millions of Jews who died in the Nazi extermination camps. Countless books, plays  and films have been produced to ensure that we never forget and so remain vigilant against any likely recurrence. Yet until Nabil Shaban decided to do something about it, there has never been a play or film which seeks to tell the story of Hitler’s Euthanasia program for disabled people.

In fact,  THE FIRST TO GO,  the First Victims, in Hitler’s systematic drive to purify the Aryan race were people with physical, sensory, mental and psychiatric disabilities. Gas chambers were originally created to speed up the culling of such unwanted “Useless Eaters”, the term used by Hitler to describe disabled people.

Nabil Shaban’s play, THE FIRST TO GO, doesn’t just tell the story of Disabled Victims, it also tells of Disabled Heroes and  Disabled Villains.

The Disabled Victims, Siegfried, Heide and Helmut….it is their destiny to be given lethal injections.

The Disabled Villain, Dr. Josef Goebbels, a man who so hated being crippled with a clubbed foot, he chose to hate all disabled people, he masterminded the propaganda campaign advocating Euthanasia.

The Disabled Heroes, Claus von Stauffenberg, the one armed, one eyed “terrorist”  who attempted to blow up Hitler

And Brunhilde, the German Army nurse who becomes disabled and consequently joins the ranks of the persecuted but in doing so, helps thwart Hitler’s plan to rid the world of so-called “imperfect” people.

Nabil Shaban

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Here is my YouTube channel – 2BenefitPeople which archives the hidden TV and Film Cultural History of Disabled People over the past three and half decades. As I said yesterday, the channel contains only those film and television that I have had a creative input, whether as performer, writer, film-maker, which are not commercially available on DVD or Online. Also, I have uploaded the material for educational purposes and not for monetary profit.


See some of the great TV I have been involved with

My website offering my books, films and music for sale

SEE my videos on YouTube

also on Vimeo which contain my videos YouTube has banned

Download my music on iTunes

What not to do #EndTheAwkward

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In this series of online film shorts for Scope’s #EndTheAwkward campaign, presenter and Scope Ambassador Alex Brooker reacts to hidden camera set-ups exposing how awkward we are around disability. This film was produced in partnership with Channel 4.

Scope End the Awkward Campaign

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At Scope we have a vision of a world where disabled people are equal and able to live independent lives.

Changing attitudes is a significant part of securing that vision. We know that two- thirds of people feel awkward around disabled people. The problem is even more prominent amongst younger people in Britain.

These negative attitudes can have a direct impact on a disabled person’s chances of making friends, getting a job or securing the services they need. When people don’t know a disabled person they can all too often believe lazy, offensive and incorrect stereotypes.

That’s why we’re passionate about changing public attitudes. But this is just one way we work to make the world a better place for disabled people.

RJ Mitte talking about his experience of bullying

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