A little while
ago, I was invited to supper with some friends and was introduced to a young
couple who were employed by one of those charities that claim to represent us.
my friend had arranged things so that I was seated next to them during the meal
and was expecting some sparks to fly (I seem to have developed a reputation for
livening up some of the social occasions that I get invited to – can’t think
why?!) I was determined to behave myself.
‘Did you see
those amazing adverts for Leonard Cheshire about disability?’ was their opener
for ten. Decision time; should I just smile politely and say something like ‘Yes,
good weren’t they?’ or let them have both barrels and point out that the
adverts focus mainly on physical impairments and that when it does refer to someone
with a visual impairment, the creature tells us that it’s developed increased
hearing in order to compensate for its reduced vision (real super crip stuff)?!
Or that it virtually ignores the social
model understanding of disability and gets its bunch of apparently compliant
crips talking about their impairments?! Or, its underlying message of ‘see the
cute, cuddly creature and not the Disabled person’ … need I go on?!
pleased to hear that I started off with just the one barrel and introduced them
to the concept that not all Disabled people are happy about the way that
Leonard Cheshire in particular claims to represent us. And that rather than
wasting their money on yet another gimmicky spin on disability it might be more
productive to provide funding so that we can tell our own story in our own way.
‘Oh, how would
you do that then?’ was the tentative enquiry. ‘Well, for a start I should think
that we could use real Disabled people talking about their own experiences of
discrimination and what they would like to see changing in our society, don’t
‘Er, how do you
the reaction if, when black people were starting to speak out against their own
oppression, they were only allowed to be represented on TV by gollywog glove
puppets … ’
‘But surely it’s
not the same?’
Action - Our friends over in Northern Ireland, Disability
Action are celebrating after achieving the Mark of Excellence Award and
retaining its Investors In People status at the Northern Ireland Quality
Awards. The organisation is one of only three organisations to
achieve the Mark of Excellence at this year's Northern Ireland Quality Awards
and is the highest scoring new award winner. It just goes to show that it takes
Disabled people to lead the way.