Why study the history of learning disabilities?

8 December 2016

Why study the history of learning disabilities?

'Forgetting the extermination is the final act of the extermination itself' (Raoul Hilberg)

Is spending time thinking about the past is an unnecessary luxury when making things better in the present needs all our attention?

I do not think it is.

And in July 2016 I had the luxury of being able to spend 2 days thinking about this at the Social History of Learning Disabilities Conference, in Milton Keynes. I came away more than ever convinced that it really matters to remember the past, and use it to reflect upon the present.

Why I support Learning Disability England - and you should too

29 November 2016

Learning Disability England launched in June. It is a broad coalition of people and organisations, led by self advocates, who believe people with learning disabilities and their families need a loud and effective voice. This is why I think academics need to be involved.

Back in 2015, I answered a call Simon Duffy put out challenging academics to rally round the Learning Disability Alliance. I offered to help. It has taken a lot longer than I thought possible, but now we are ready to launch a network of academics to support LDE.

Time not to stay silent

23 November 2016

Yesterday we launched these learning materials about the history of learning disability in this country. We heard from Deb Evans about her son, Eden, who has been institutionalised since he was 17. He is now 25. It was a reminder that institutions are not only a thing of the past.

Being at the launch set me thinking afresh about the scandal of the way people with learning disabilities have been treated, and continue to be treated in our 'civilised' nation. Legislation in 1913 authorised people with learning disabilities to be shut away. People spent years, decades, even a lifetime in those places. They were not criminals. Merely unfortunate enough to have failed ill thought through tests. What is the difference between a stone and an egg?