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Crippen asks Super Crips to share the limelight

So, let's  take the suggestion a little further shall we?

We've already decided if disabled athletes AND disabled artists work together then we have a real chance of putting a spanner in the works of this divisive government, even if it's a small one.

Because let's face it, some of those disabled athletes out there are only a hair's breadth away from falling into the benefits trap that many of us currently find ourselves in.

Disabled athletes are currently the flavour of the month, especially with all of the Paralympic hype that's going on. But what happens afterwards? When their 'special' status changes and they become just another disabled person, ripe for attack by the ConDems and subject to the brutal fall of the cutting blade.

We all have our moments. Currently for disabled athletes it's the 2012 Paralympics. For the rest of us Crips it's the workhouse.

So come on you Super Crips. How about directing a bit of that limelight onto the rest of the disability stage. We need your help to highlight the reality for thousands of fellow disabled people who are being put through the ATOS wringer - with some failing to come out the other side.

Together we can make changes and have this unique opportunity to do just that. By all means compete and get your medals, but also, when the members of thepress want to interview you, talk to them about the real plight of disabled people in this country!

Thanks for listening.

 

Crippen's strip cartoon

And don't forget that you can visit Crippen's latest strip cartoon episode of the O'Crype family and their involvement with the Cultural Olympiad.

 

Posted by Dave Lupton, 23 July 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 10 November 2012

Knocking down the wall

Last week at the Shape media conference I had the pleasure of meeting Kristina Veasey. She has taken part in two Paralympics and talked about her own experiences competing as a disabled athlete.

For most of us non-athletic Crips, and in particular those of us involved in disability arts, the world of the Paralympian seems remote to say the least. We see them as single minded Super Crips with no interest or involvement in disability politics and protest. What we do hear about are those sporty wheelchair users with amazing upper body strength telling non-disabled people that they don't need ramps!

The media love them as well, providing photo opportunities of 'good' disabled people (as opposed to 'bad' disabled people who are scrounging on disability benefit and can't be arsed to find a job!).

All this media hype of course goes to reinforce the stereotypes of disability that Mr and Mrs Jo Public know and love. The acceptable face of disability versus the unacceptable.

But having chatted to Kristina after her talk, I learned a few things. For example did you know that all Paralympians have to sign a contract that specifically prohibits them from taking part in any political protest during the duration of the games?

This means that if they did protest for the duration of the games, (against ATOS for example) they would have sacrificed years of training and would have to return any medals that they had won.

But some paralympians find ways around the system. For example Kristina told me that was why, as a retired paralympian, she became Amnesty International's paralympic ambassador during the Beijing games - "so I could give voice to protest."

Perhaps between us all - paralympians, activists, disabled artists - we could start to tear down the wall that the media & society have erected and start working together.

As ever the challenge is to be able to communicate more openly with each other and to be prepared to let go of those unhelpful stereotypes. I include myself in this as a veteran of creating and maintaining some of these stereotypes. My exchange with Kristina was a kick in my assumptions which I found very helpful and thought provoking.

Perhaps all disabled people, all working together could create a power base strong enough to bring this government and their draconian measures to a shuddering halt.

We can but hope.

BTW if you do have tickets for Paralympic events you may be asked to participate in an on-line survey. Why not use this opportunity to voice some of our concerns about the dichotomy between the experiences of paralympians and many other disabled people. Here's your chance to comment on the gap between the portrayal of paralympic athletes and the daily struggle against barriers that most disabled people face.

Posted by Dave Lupton, 29 June 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 10 November 2012