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Caroline Cardus adds some thoughts on disabled people’s relationship / experience of science.

Image from 'The Way Ahead' - an exhibition of road signs on a disability theme put together by artist Caroline Cardus Caroline Cardus

Image from 'The Way Ahead' - an exhibition of road signs on a disability theme put together by artist Caroline Cardus

Image: Caroline Cardus

Mostly our experience is tainted by medical science, views on genetics and the medical model. Some science is very exciting but disability experience, both cultural and practical, is not ‘central’ within it. Our experience is treated as an add on, e.g. you can choose the paint colour for your wheelchair. We are allowed a very superficial participation.

  • How do we break with tradition, stereotypes, outdated conceps, and the legacy of these - in both the disability and the scientific communities?

  • Why don't science and architecture students learn about disability, rights, choice and culture from the start of their education?

  • How do we cope with the frustration fuelled by the fact that the voice of disabled people is way down on a list of priorities set by someone who naturally assumes themselves ‘more knowledgeable’. If someone is knowledgeable in a particular specialism, it does not automatically follow that they have knowledge about disability experience - many don't even know that they need to know about it!

  • Assistive technology – who decides what regarding expense, efficiency, usability, need, etc

  • Is there a ‘caste’ system operating within disability athletics? Is an athletic disabled person more agreeable than an non-athletic disabled person?

  • Science and the media – complicit in all the wrong places? I'm thinking of those telly nasties ‘The Boy Whose Arse Fell Off’ etc - currently fashionable programmes that are little more than a modern day freak-show masquerading as 'education lite' real life television, with a smattering of medicalisation thrown in. It doesn’t do disabled people OR medical science any favours to have this shoved in front of everyone's noses … what could it be if we tore it down and started again?

  • Mental health: The symptoms of a large number of people cannot be explained by ‘science' or by tests - yet there is a reluctance to admit what isn't known. As a result we make do with Freud, electric shock therapy, drugs with massive side effects and a low quality of life.