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Disability Arts Online

Who pulls the strings? / 13 February 2009

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.

Realising that 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?!

 You’ll be 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 you?’

 ‘Er, how do you mean …?’

 ‘Well, imagine 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?’

 ‘Isn’t it?!’

 Disability 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.

Comments

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13 February 2009

Hi boys and girls, how are you all finding this new web site layout? It's certainly much easier for those of us posting the blogs to use. No more sleepless nights over trying to work out what we've done wrong with the coding etc. We just type in the plain text and there it is! Seriously though, we'd be pleased to have your comments. Take care, Crippen