Today is the start of UK Disability History Month, which runs from November 22 to December 22. The theme this year is disability and language. Scope will be marking the month by publishing a number of blogs which tell the stories of disabled people throughout history.
We will explore the language used when talking about disabled people, the lack of recognition of the achievements disabled people have made and asking what impact this has on the way we view disabled people today and the impact this has on the life chances of disabled people.
We have asked young disabled people to tell the stories of historical figures they admire. Featuring Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Frieda Kahlo and Alfred Nobel – people who have made a huge impact on our world. We will also feature blogs from older disabled people who talk about how their lives have changed over more recent decades.
The people we have chosen to write about have made such an impact in the world of politics, science and the arts and their legacy lives with us today. Yet despite all they have achieved, why do so few people know they were also disabled?
How many people are aware that Franklin Delano Roosevelt, America’s longest serving President and a political icon, used a wheelchair due to a bout of polio?
Why do we know so little about disabled people’s achievements?
As part of Disability History Month we want to explore why this is the case. Why do we know so little about disabled people’s achievements and why do we not celebrate them?
So much of the discourse around disability is negative and this can have a huge impact on how disabled people see themselves.
We all need role models and people we can look to inspire us and show us what can be achieved and this is particularly important for disabled people who already face prejudice when it comes to finding work or ignorance about what is needed to enable someone to live independently.
20% of the UK population are disabled and yet research carried out by Scope shows that nearly half (43%) of the British public say they do not know a disabled person. We hope that over the coming weeks as you read about the lives of disabled people, past and present, that you will have a better understanding of the lives of disabled people, challenges disabled have overcome but also of the challenges which remain and which prevent disabled people from reaching their full potential.
Read our blog about Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “Could a disabled person be President or Prime Minister today?“