A0 Introduction to NUT web pages for UK Disability History Month (UKDHM) 2012

A0 Introduction to NUT web pages for UK Disability History Month (UKDHM)2012
UKDHM formally takes place between 22nd November and 22nd December each year, though many events and activities take place outside this time slot. It is supported by more than 100 organisations, including the NUT.
The purpose of UK Disability History Month is:-
To raise awareness of the unequal position of disabled people in society and to advocate disability equality;
To develop an understanding of the historical roots of this inequality;
To highlight the significance of disabled people’s struggles for equality and inclusion and the ‘social model’ of disability;
To publicise and argue for the full implementation of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities and the Equalities Act (2010).[ http://www.un.org/disabilities/documents/convention/convoptprot-e.pdf]
Disabled people don’t just identify as disabled, but also as women or men, girls or boys, straight or lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered, black or ethnic minorities, refugees and asylum seekers or religious minorities and of all classes in society. Throughout the Disability History Month it will be important to recognise that disabled people have multiple identities, being members of other groups subjected to discriminatory practice and to ensure that the diverse nature of disabled people is recognised in terms of the range and type of impairment that are included e.g. Neuro-diverse, mental health issues, learning difficulty, physical, invisible and sensory impairments.
Key foci of the month are:
– Advocating equality for disabled people
– Promoting disability equality and inclusion-‘Nothing About Us ,Without Us’
– Examining the roots of ‘Disabilism’- negative attitudes, harassment and hate crime
– Celebrating disabled people’s history- struggles for rights, equality and inclusion
– Challenging and exposing the unequal position of disabled people in our society
– The Cultural and Artistic portrayal of disabled people
– Highlighting examples of good disability equality.
UKDHM adopts and supports a social and human rights’ approach to disability rather than a medical or traditional model approach [See link to Models].
A further range of resources, events and links can be found at the UK Disability history month website www.ukdisabilityhistorymonth.com

The theme of UK Disability History Month 2013 is ‘Celebrating our struggle for independent living: no return to the institution and isolation’.
This resource has been commissioned from UKDHM and Richard Rieser by the National Union of Teachers.
All state funded schools have a general duty to promote equality for disabled people under the Equality Act (2010 see www.equalityhumanrights.com/about-us/vision…/disability-equality/ ‎). This consists of the:
• Elimination of discrimination, harassment and victimisation
• Advancing of equality of opportunity.
• Fostering of good relations.
Utilising these resources will help teachers fulfil these statutory requirements, develop disability equality and create greater understanding of the position of disabled people and their treatment over time.
The treatment of disabled people has varied over time, as has thinking about physical and mental difference. Overwhelmingly the experience has been negative, but there are always individuals and episodes of history that go against the grain, resulting in positive experiences for certain disabled people. Here we will limit ourselves to examining the last 1000 years in England and Wales. This will not be a systematic history, as researchers are only in the last 10 years or so examining the history of disabled people, but a number of historic snap shots based on our current limited knowledge. Those with physical and mental impairments [loss of function of parts or systems of their body on a long term or permanent basis], have through most of this period not been identified as disabled people but as different -enough to be picked out and often picked upon. The focus will be on the UKDHM theme of isolation and institutionalisation and in the last 50 years the development of independent living and current threats to it.
Strong stereotypes of disabled people as pitiable, evil, penitent sinners, laughable, perpetual children, a burden/threat reoccur in art, literature, drama, folklore, music and more recently in newspapers, cinema, television. These often reinforce negative treatment and bullying. They contrast with the lived experience of disabled people, which can be as variable as any other person’s life.
A fuller treatment of these can be found in the ‘Report of the Invisible Children Conference’ http://www.worldofinclusion.com/res/invisible/Invisible_Children.pdf and in Colin Barnes ‘Disabling Imagery and the Media’. http://disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/files/library/Barnes-disabling-imagery.pdf and BFI ‘Disabling Imagery’ http://www.worldofinclusion.com/res/disimg/Disabling_Imagery_text.doc
These web pages will provide materials and activities to develop an understanding of the lives of disabled people at selected times in the last 1000 years.
A very useful history of his period, resources and activities has recently been provided by English Heritage using 400 listed buildings. http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/publications/disability-in-time-and-place/disability-tk.pdf
Below is an outline of what is available on this site in terms of teachers notes, information and activities sheets for students, with appropriate web links. The material for students has been graded KS 2, 3, 4 or 5. Some can be used directly by students but It is advisable that teachers directing students to this material familiarise themselves with it . The way in which teachers and students think and speak about disabled people is crucial. Start reading and undertaking activities in Section A.
These pages will cover:
1.Introductory Activities[Section A]
Teachers go first [A1 Teachers guide to Ways of thinking and speaking about disability]
It is important for students to approach the past treatment of disabled people from current equality based approaches to prevent the reinforcement of still prevalent negative ideas.
The definition of disability [A3 Information ad Activities -Who are disabled people-definition].Activity [A3] also provides an activity for getting students to examine different illnesses and impairments and identify which is a long term impairment that would be classified as a disability under the 2010 Equality Act. Understanding difference between traditional, medical and social model approaches is essential. Scope have developed a useful approach to explaining the different models using ‘Winnie the Witch’ suitable for younger children [A2]. Activities [A3,A4 and A5] are aimed at getting students to understand the different approaches.
The Language used to describe disabled people and their impairments changes over time. In historical context we have used original language for the period. Much of this would be considered offensive by disabled people today. It is therefore useful for students to undertake the activity Language and Disabled People [A7]. To help with this activity and aid understanding we provide a glossary of the origin of negative words associated with disabled people [A8].
i) Disability Time and Place English Heritage: Teachers’ Kit
Teachers’ Notes provide a useful historical overview[ http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/publications/disability-in-time-and-place/disability-tk.pdf]
Activities provide many further useful approaches[ http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/publications/disability-in-time-and-place/disability-tk-activities.pdf]
Image Resources are based on relevant photos of English Heritage Buildings [http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/publications/disability-in-time-and-place/disability-tk-images.pdf]

B Disability History Timelines: The struggle for equal rights through the ages
It is important for students to get a broad understanding of the change in the social position, treatment and changing attitudes to disabled people.
Scope, [www.scope.org.uk/help-and-information/education/disability-histor ] in their oral history project ‘Speaking for Ourselves’ provided a useful schools pack. [B1] provides activities around their 100 year time line for KS2/3.
An on-line oral history film(15.21) addresses the changing position of people with cerebral palsy [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBo2EpL9nbc&feature=player_embedded] KS3/4
This new [Timeline] commissioned by NHS North West Equalities, aims to document how attitudes towards disability have differed (or not) through the ages and across cultures. It also marks the contribution of individuals and groups to advancements in health and social care in relation to disability. It highlights legal and other landmarks in the struggles towards equal rights of disabled people. We also provide this as a PDF [B5].
[http://www.lancashirecare.nhs.uk/CubeCore/.uploads/E&D/Useful_Links_Docs/Disability%20Time%20Line%20-%20NHS%20North%20West.pdf] The Activity [B2] for KS3/4 utilises this 48 page publication.
Leeds University in their DEEPS project demonstrated that KS2 children have a very distorted view of disabled people mainly considering they don’t achieve and stay at home. [http://www.sociology.leeds.ac.uk/research/projects/deeps/] It is therefore important for students to get a better idea about the rich diversity of disabled people’s lives and how much they have achieved over time in the world. Activity [B3] provides a downloadable exercise of 27 disabled people who have made a difference and then a series of web lists by different impairment for extension work.
[B4] utilises Tom Shakespeare’s blog, where he has gone into biographic detail-Our Statue Touches the Skies [http://disabledlives.blogspot.co.uk/]The language will suit more able KS4/5 students.
C. Disability in the Feudal and Medieval period
[C1 Teachers’ notes] provides an overview.
This period was dominated by traditional beliefs in impairments as punishment and/or curable by faith and religion. Pilgrimages of disabled people and others were common to holy shrines. Recently, historians’ research is suggesting that although miracles where widely recorded, the population was more accepting of physical and mental differences than previously thought.[C2 Miracle Cures -Information and Activities]
The first hospitals and care for those with severe impairments occurred in the Monasteries. [C3]Disability In Medieval Hospitals and Almshouses Information and Activities (KS 2,3,4). [C4 ]The Time of Leprosy: 11th Century to 14th Century Information and Activities (KS2,3, 4).

D. Disabled People in the Period 1485 to 1660
[D1]Teachers’ Notes
[D2].Natural Fools in the court of Henry VIII, Hampton Court, PHSE KS2, History, Drama KS3/4[D3] [D4].Lives of Disabled People in C16th. Info sheet Activities KS2/3
E. The Poor Law Starting with the responses to labour shortage following the ‘Black Death’, this section analyses the forerunners of the Elizabethan Poor Law relying on the parish ‘out-door relief’.This changes with the beginnings of a more austere emphasis on ‘indoor relief’, leading to the 1834 New Poor Law Amendment Act (PLAA). [E1] provides an overall review. Activity [E2] links to resources in the National Archive to examine the impact of the PLAA (KS3/4). [E3] provides activities on the Old and New Poor law and disabled people (KS3/4/5). Some of these can be adapted for younger students. [E4] provides statistics in graphs of numbers on poor relief and expenditure-something that continually exercises politicians and the owning classes. Disabled people were swept up in the push to make poor law relief the worst option for non-disabled people, the principle of ‘less eligibility’ and this undoubtedly led to disabled people being institutionalised and devalued, which is still impacting today.
F Mental Deficiency and Eugenics
In the wake of Darwin and faced with rapid urbanisation, poverty and social breakdown caused by capitalism, many Victorians in the ‘chattering classes’ came to wrongly identify illegitimacy, alcoholism, petty theft and failure of working class children in the new state education system with the ‘evil’ of mental deficiency. The impact on disabled people and people with learning difficulties, in particular, was dramatic. [F1 Information Sheet]. Meanwood Park was set up in 1920 on the outskirts of Leeds, eventually housing 2000 disabled people compulsorily under the strictures of 1913 Mental Deficiency Act. [F2 Meanwood Park]provides a student activity utilising internet sources. [F3] provides the blueprints for Mental Deficiency Hospitals provided by the Lunacy Commission in 1919 [Referred to in F2].
G. Closure of Long Stay Institutions and the struggle to live in the community.
Slowly through scandals in the media about the inhumane treatment of inmates at Ely, Borocourt, St Lawrence’s Hospitals and many others, pressure built up for community care. This was added to by important research by psychologists that established Intelligence was not fixed and that people with learning difficulties could learn employable skills. The change was very slow starting in 1959, but the last long stay hospital did not shut until 2009. [G1] provides an information sheet on the closures of long stay institutions. [G2-The Camden Society] sketches the history of one local organisation for people with learning difficulties and their struggles to establish supported living in the community. [G3] are activities on the Camden Society and People First (KS2-4). In [G4] Mabel Cooper tells her story of being placed in St Lawrence’s Mental Deficiency Hospital to eventually coming out to supported living and then living independently. Mabel also became a great campaigner and member of People First-the self advocacy organisation of people with learning difficulties.
Parallel to learning difficulty and mental deficiency but far longer in its impact on disabled peoples lives’ has been the treatment of those classed as ‘insane’, ‘lunatic’ or as they have been known more recently, ‘mentally ill’ or ‘mental health system users or survivors’.
From the beginning of human development those with mental health issues have been viewed as possessed by spirits or demons or lost souls in terms of religion. 3500 years ago trepanning of people’s skulls was an early , usually fatal treatment.
Those with severe ‘melancholia’/depression or ‘manias’/psychosis were for more than 750 years placed in hospitals such as Bedlam in London. Here they were inhumanly and viciously treated. Social reformers set up asylums, as a place of safety, were soon overtaken by massive expansion in C19th, overcrowding and experimentation.
Gradually from 1950s to 1990s the long-stay mental hospitals were closed. Care in the community which replaced them was largely made possible by psycho-tropic drugs, was carried out on the cheap. The human relationships and support needed were not developed or sufficiently planned.
Increasingly people with mental health joined the ranks of the homeless and the prison population. The transformation to a ‘social model’ approach is still largely not happening, instead a resurgence of a ‘medical model’ approach with its reliant on widespread use of drugs is dominant. Despite these developments a vibrant ‘Survivors Movement’ played an important part in de-institutionalization and liberation of the mental health system users.
See [G5] is an Information Sheet suitable KS4/5 on the History of Mental Illness and Mental Health Problems and [G6] KS4/5 Activities on Mental Health.
H. The Struggle for Human Rights and Independent Living
The Disabled People’s Movement in the last 50 years has struggled to get the world to understand that the old medical model approach-focusing on our impairments and what disabled people cannot do, is incredibly wasteful of human potential and denies disabled people their human rights. [H1] outlines the principles of Independent Living, as they have evolved over time. [H2] is an information sheet on the life and thinking of Simon Brisenden, a young disabled campaigner for independent living. (Activities KS4/5 English Factual and Drama and History). [H3] shows, through the life and music of Johnny Crescendo, a musical voice for the aspirations of the Disabled People’s Movement and founder of the Direct Action Network.(Activities KS 2,3,4 Music, English, PHSE, History)
Materials for Reception and Key Stage 1 can be found in All Equal All Different online athttp://www.worldofinclusion.com/res/alleq/Pack_Contents.pdf
See [Relevant resources] for more links and information.

Leave a Reply