Currently running on Facebook is a campaign lambasting the Comic Relief 'Red Nose' day because, they say: "(We) are annoyed and distressed at Comic Relief's decision to include David Cameron in the video to this year's charity single by One Direction. They then go on to list all of the atrocities committed by Cameron, aimed at sick and disabled people, and those on benefits or on a low income.
Firstly, let me make it clear that I agree wholeheartedly with this group's stance against Cameron and the present government. What the ConDems are doing to certain sections of our society beggars belief. I have, along with other disabled activists, been in the thick of the fight against them and will continue to take my place alongside those who challenge the government.
However, to boycott an organisation that is the very antithesis of Tory policy, just because of Cameron's appearance in the video is, in my humble opinion, not exactly constructive.
Many years ago, when Comic Relief, Children in Need et al first appeared on the scene, disabled activists throughout the country were appalled at the patronising crap which oozed from our TV screens. Not only did we boycott these appeals but we also tried to make sure that everyone knew why. We chained ourselves to the railings outside TV stations, we leafleted and a few intrepid souls even managed to gate-crash televised events to publicise our cause. "Piss on pity", "Rights not charity", "Nothing about us without us" were bold new statements way back then.
We all know what Mr Wogan and his cronies did. They ignored us and have pretty much continued as if nothing had happened. Lenny Henry and the other, original Comic Relief organisers, however, started up a dialogue with us and asked what they were doing wrong. They listened when we explained and took our criticisms on the chin.
From this small step many of us began working with Comic Relief (arguably the ONLY such charity to have agreed to work with disabled people on our own terms). Some of the results have been the increased involvement of disabled people in the organisation, funding being directed towards organisations "of" rather than "for" disabled people and changing the "tragic but brave" stereotype that so damages our struggle for equality and full citizenship. (And it became an approach they've used with other groups they support, too.)
Those of us who are really long in the tooth will remember that landmark training resource "Altogether Better" which was so vital to disability equality/disability action training throughout the 1990s and beyond. Perhaps for the first time, it enabled Deaf and disabled people of all ages to tell our own story through the video clips and materials it brought together and it tackled some highly controversial issues head on. Who funded it? Well, Comic Relief actually.
So please guys, hammer Cameron and his cowboys as much as you can. I'm with you on that. But don't risk sabotaging probably the only organisation of this type which, in my opinion, has worked hard to take our issues on board and provided a level playing field for us all to operate together on.
Thanks for listening. Rant over (for now!).
One of the main problems affecting many disabled people at the moment is a lack of income. And, as a result, a reduction in the ability to make those choices that affect the quality of our lives.
Until recently, many disabled people earned a reasonable income from providing professional services to organisations which provided disability equality training for their workforce, as part of complying with their legal obligations in relation to employment and providing services. But recently this, and other equality training, seems to have slid right down to the bottom of the agenda - if not off the agenda completely.
Crippen the cynic believes that this is all part and parcel of the present government's efforts to undermine our status as equal citizens in society. First, they labelled us all benefit scroungers and a burden on society. Then this gave them licence to go ahead with their cuts in support services, giving a bit of encouragement along the way to those charities that claim to represent disabled people. So this - among their many other evil acts - has resulted in a reduction in funding everywhere and signposts a one-way route into residential care for many of us.
Many disabled people spent several decades wrestling disability action and equality training away from the "simulationists". Those were (and alas still are) largely non-disabled people, who think that making people wear a blindfold for 5 minutes enables trainees to understand what it is like to have a visual impairment or sending people out into the high street in a wheelchair shows trainees just how brave it is to tackle life on wheels. Having slogged to make disability equality training more meaningful, apparently now our skills are no longer recognised as valid or having any value.
Apart, that is, in those organisations which seem to have revived the old tradition of inviting a disabled people to come in and talk about their own experiences, providing them with a cup of tea and a sticky bun for their trouble.
So if you are one of those crips providing your services for free, could I just remind you that it took years of hard graft to establish our role as professional disabled people in the field of equality training. The last thing that we need is for our disabled brothers and sisters to undermine us in this role and to devalue the importance of this work.
It also goes without saying that we need to earn a living and be in a position to fight against those right wing bigots who don't want us to have any part in their Big Society!
Do government ministers need disability equality training?
"Do government ministers need disability equality training?" That was the question asked by a member of the public at an all party parliamentary group on disability earlier this week. It's surely a sign of how disabled people's trust in the government agenda around this issue has broken down that someone even felt it appropriate to ask this question - even if it was slightly facetious!
Lord Freud, minister for state for welfare reform, was present to discuss the government's benefit reform agenda with MPs and members of the public. Apparently, according to people at the meeting Lord Freud didn't seem to appreciate that ESA was aimed almost solely at disabled people and that Contributory ESA is only open to disabled people when he insisted that disabled people would be protected against these changes. This apparently caused several people to ask if he fully understood the issues?!
Vern Pitt, equalities journalist commented: "There are elements of disability benefit reforms which are sensible and easy for disabled people and the sector to get behind. No one would argue the form for disability living allowance should remain huge and complex, or that there needs to be better employment support for disabled people.
"But the way the government has handled it, in a rather blunt manner (often pandering to the right wing press' depiction of those on benefits as scroungers), has made it untenable for most to get behind these aims."
Disability Alliance, the disability organisation which focuses on benefits, was quick to point out that the consultation on disability living allowance reform is only running for nine weeks, not the usual 12. It is measures like this that make disabled people rightly suspicious of the motives for change.
Vern added: "All the little things add up. The lack of information, the lack of consultation and the subsequent lack of clarity are making it hard to find a solution that both the government and service users can support. Worse still it's clearly beginning to make disabled people question if the government even know what disabled peoples lives are really like!"
Commenting to me by email, disabled activist Alan Wheatley told me: " As a lifelong disabled person, I have long suspected that those who give the order have no idea what my life (as a disabled person)is like."
You're not the only one Alan!
Leading the recent protest rally against the proposed Government welfare cuts were a large group of Disabled people. Wearing and carrying large black triangles, they were symbolizing the murder of thousands of Disabled people during the Holocaust; their aim being to embarrass Cameron and his government, who have repeatedly insisted that the most vulnerable will be protected from the impact of the cuts.
The use of this black triangle seems to have had an impact upon the general public, journalists and other non-disabled people at the protest which indicates that we may have found a symbol with which to carry our fight on into the future.
By re-owning the Black Triangle, it could become 'the' symbol of the Disabled People's Movement, a rallying cry for us all and something which articulates our demands in a more direct and recognizable manner.
Such a simple yet powerful symbol could be the very thing that we need to bring together the disabled artists, the mental health system survivors, people with HIV and AIDS, and the Deaf communities with all of the other Disabled people in the UK. This is something that we have struggled to do until now, and the powers that be have capitalized on divisions, continue to try to separate us into impairment groups and ensuring that we just fight our individual corner.
Large corporations pay huge sums of money to image consultants and publicity specialists to come up with a symbol that the public recognizes and associates with just their company. Imagine just having to portray a Black Triangle in order for people to understand that it represents Disabled people who are working and fighting together for a just and accessible society united under the Social Model understanding and not part of the oppressive Medical or Charitable Model status quo.
I’m reminded of the immense power of the red ribbon cross adopted in support of those living with HIV and AIDS, and more recently the pink ribbon symbol which prompts us to think of those we love who live with breast cancer and those we have lost to that disease.
Envisage an MP opening an envelope in the future and a Black Triangle falls out. That is all we would need to do ... the symbolism alone would mean that we are watching him or her and expecting them to support our corner in an upcoming debate or vote. The Black Triangle could become the biggest symbol for change since the peace symbol of the 60's!
So, how about it, you articulate and feisty Crips out there? Let’s debate these issues and I promise to keep the ball rolling on this blog.
Change to original artwork following comments
Following comments regarding the use of an all black, upwards facing triangle, how about something like this (see illustration). It still retains the triangle shape but introduces a vibrant background of red with accessible white lettering depicting what it represents. What do you think ..?
Editor - You are invited to scroll down and leave your comments in the space provided below.
A recent survey shows that society has completely fallen for the latest piece of CONDEM misinformation that millions of pounds are being claimed fraudulently, especially those benefits that are designed to assist Disabled people to compete more equally in the work place. They also endorse the use of paid Bounty Hunters to track these alleged cheats down.
The fact that the government’s own figures show that this fraud claim is a complete nonsense and that millions of pounds lay unclaimed by those people who are entitled to them, doesn’t stop them from continuing to spout out this dangerous rubbish.
Disabled people have once again been identified as being either frauds and not entitled to the benefits they are claiming (and this particularly applies to those of us with a hidden impairment) or as being vulnerable members of society that need caring for (us crips having been lumped back in again with the ‘vulnerable members of society’ definition!).
So much for all of the hard work that has gone into identifying the disabling barriers that exist within society; the attempts to make society a more level playing field with Disabled people having an equal opportunity to live, travel, work and play along with our non-disabled brethren.
What next - licences for Disabled people to beg in the streets as ‘deserving poor’ as was the case a hundred or so years ago? With this lot in power nothing would surprise me!
PS. It looks as though there will be the biggest turn out ever of Disabled people and their allies for the planned protest outside of the Tory Party conference on 3rd October. Watch for some quick changes in the law as the CONDEMs declare us all terrorists and ban everyone from the streets during that week!
I have been musing on the attacks on Disabled people's day to day lives that this CONDEM coalition have already started making and watching with interest ways in which crips are grouping to try to resist.
High on the worry-list is the apparent complete lack of understanding by the government of the nature of Disability Living Allowance (DLA). As we Disabled people and our allies all know only too well, the basis of this financial support is actually to go some small way towards helping with the extra costs of being a Disabled person in a disabling society.
Yes, I know, it does only go a small way and there have always been plenty of hoops to struggle through to get DLA at all (like some 50 pages form of application just to start ... ). However, DLA is at least about acknowledging that many crips - whatever their circumstances - have extra support costs and find it more expensive to travel and get around.
Why is it then that the Budget statement and the Programme for Government, which spearhead the attack on DLA, entirely miss the point? The government talks about reducing dependency and promoting work in relation to DLA. Come on! DLA (as we all know) is a benefit which is available (at least in theory) to Disabled people whether they are in work or not.
For one thing, taking it away from people (by more stringent assessments) and reducing it will make it LESS likely that working disabled people will be able to carry on in employment. That's one of the (many) things that worries me about the CONDEM axe-people - they don't even seem to pause to grasp these basics in their ideological rush to slash anything to do with 'welfare'.
Lots of groups and organisations are already campaigning hard against the whole range of attacks on Disabled people, including on DLA. I found some good info on the Inclusion London website on the Programme for Government and how the Budget will damage Disabled people's lives. Depressing reading of course - but it is a damn sight more honest than any of the government's own stuff and more readable than a lot of the other analysis on the effects of the Budget.
Click here to visit the Inclusion London site. They have both a full version and an easy read version to download about the budget and the proposed cuts.
Rumours have been circulating about a TV programme that would enable celebrities to aquire an impairment for a week in order to see what it's like to be disabled (I kid you not!).
It now turns out that the former Mrs McCartney, Heather Mills is working on such a programme although she has refused to say which broadcast company it is with or when it will be aired.
She has said however that she wants to get people like tv presenter Eamonn Holmes to spend a week in a wheelchair to see what it's like to live with a disability: "You would have to be looked after and pushed around by your wife,” she told him on his early morning show.
She added: "We would also get a chef like Gordon Ramsay, blindfold him, and put him in the kitchen for a week."
I thought we'd progressed beyond this type of disability 'awareness' theme and that if anything, the tv companies would realise the importance of portraying real Disabled people encountering real barriers within society.
As we've said many times before, this equates to a white person putting on black grease paint and being expected to suddenly develope an insight into the oppression faced by black people within our community. It just doesn't work that way!
Perhaps Ms Mills would benefit from attending a disability equality training session, run by Disabled trainers and learn something about the social model understanding of disability. Only then will she understand that this type of programme only re-enforces the negative stereotypes of disability and adds to the ignorance that results in the discrimination that we face every day.
Disability Pride is an odd concept which seems to be quite difficult for many non-disabled people to grasp.
I mean, why would be be proud of our impairments?
Here's a link to Vince Laws' current blog where he explains what Disability Pride means to him.
Click here to visit his blog and leave a comment.
On Wednesday the 16th June the Disabled people's Direct Action Network (D.A.N) will take to the streets in solidarity with the National Day of Action against the dismantling of the Welfare State.
D.A.N demonstrations will be taking place in Manchester and London and will welcome all people who identify, or who are regarded as disabled, whatever their background or impairments.
For those of you who have never been on a D.A.N demo it's important that you know that D.A.N. uses the strategy of non-violent civil disobedience and does not beg for the right to protest. This means that all of D.A.N's protests are without permission and participants could be seen as breaking the law and leaving themselves open to arrest. However Robert Lizard Solicitors will once again represent any Danner who may be arrested during the demonstrations.
There are usually PA's available to offer support to Disabled protesters but you are encourage to bring your own support team if possible. British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters are being recruited for the event on the 16th, so if you are an interpreter or know of someone who could help in this respect, please let the organisers know.
Log onto Clair Lewes' blog for more up to date information about the event. Regular danners are requested to contact Becca Y and Steve G as usual.
Information about the general protest can be found on the Defend Welfare site.
To see D.A.N members in action visit this You-Tube site
I've recently received an email from a Disabled equality trainer in Australia asking if she could use some of my cartoons about labelling within her courses. She hadn't come across the concept before and felt that it might help her to get across the equality message to both non-disabled and disabled Australians.
"No problem" I replied, and then began to wonder if other readers of this blog in other parts of the world were as ignorant of this concept as she was. With this in mind I've recreated a simple example and cobbled together some information about the subject for you.
The concept of labelling people, especially Disabled people has been with us since early times. Then we were made to wear labels that identified us as ‘witches’ or as the ‘familiars’ of bad spirits or ‘changelings’, or, if we were lucky, as the harmless village ‘dolt’ or ‘idiot’. Although if hard times came, such as a crop failure or something equally as harmful to the community, then the ‘idiot’ often became the 'scapegoat' and was disposed of to appease the gods.
As times progressed and society became more enlightened (Ed - our American readers should note the use of irony here!) we were seen more as figures of fun and were given the labels of ‘Jester’ or ‘Fool’. Those of us with mental health issues were also allowed to entertain the nobility, but were put on display in places like Bedlam and given the labels of ‘Mad’ and ‘Insane’ regardless of our actual condition.
We were also given the label of ‘villain’ in early children’s stories, usually with an eye or a limb missing, or labelled as the ‘weak’ or ‘needy’ character whenever sentimentality or charity were portrayed by such as Charles Dickens and other writers of his time.
Following the onset of the industrial revolution we were deemed ‘worthy poor’ and allowed to beg, and some argue that this is where the label of ‘handicapped’ (cap in hand) originated. The label ‘Invalid’ also appeared about this time and literally means ‘not valid’.
The medical professionals during the 19th and 20th century, deciding that we needed repairing brought with them their own labels. These ranged from the familiar ‘idiot’ to the ‘imbecile’, the ‘feeble minded’ and the ‘moral defective’. More labels followed as they began to split us into groups of impairment, resulting in 'Mongol’ and ‘Spastic’ to name but a few.
The more subtle labels remain to this day and are still used by those groups and organisations who wish to control us and wish to separate us from society. It is mainly the charities that rely upon the power of labelling, still portraying us as ‘vulnerable’ and ‘incapable’ amongst other disempowering descriptions. The medical profession also continue to play their part, although have changed some of their labels to appear more progressive; ‘Cerebral Palsy’ replacing ‘Spastic’ and ‘Down’s Syndrome’ replacing ‘Mongolism’ for example.
Remember, labelling people is about disempowerment and only works if the person who is given the label agrees to wear it.
Crippen is currently in the UK meeting up with his many contacts in the world of cripdom and
gathering fresh material for this cartoon blog and other projects that he has underway.
He'll be back with us next week, and in the meantime has left us with one of his typical 'us and them' creations!
Our hardworking Editor Colin has been on a drive to get membership of dao's facebook group site increased.
He's just got another 30 members to join in the past couple of days - so we're now up to 555!
To join, please click here and it will take you to the appropriate page.
Crippen has reworked his cartoon gallery and now has many more cartoons for you to use
within your own publications, training materials and newsletters.
Please click here to go to the new, improved Crippen web site.
By coincidence I've had a couple of messages from Disabled people who are going through the gender identity process.
One is at the stage of applying for an operation and the other is attempting to get the gender on her birth certificate amended.
Both of these people have described to me a process that is so medical model orientated that it makes me want to beat the various consultants and medicos over the head with a large hammer labelled 'social model understanding'.
Why this issue has been given over to the medical profession to act as gate keepers is beyond me. OK, there is sometimes an operation involved but that is a small part of the whole thing.
The medical profession being what it is, they seem to be particularly strict in the application of the various tests that they've constructed for people wishing to have their gender amended to, what for the people going through the actual process, is the correct gender in the first place. It's another of those 'protecting society from .. 'situations as I see it.
Let's have all these tests to ensure that this person who says they are male or female are really what they claim. We can then all sleep safer in our beds knowing that these perverts are not walking the streets at nights up to goodness knows what!
And some of these people are also claiming to be disabled people too ... whatever next?!
Stop allowing the medical profession to drag everything into their medical model based arena and allow such issues to become a part of the process of self determination that all people have a right to expect.
Perhaps we need to get this aired on East Enders. They've certainly raised the profile on other social issues so why not on gender identity?!
Following the news relating to Local Authorities being advised by the Department of Health to give preference to tenders for services from User-Led Organisations (ULO's) it got me to thinking about the groups and organisations that have traditionally gone after this work.
These are, of course, the organisations 'for' disabled people, those charitable concerns that have been doing it to us crips for a very long time and who have established the status quo that effectively maintains our role as recipients of their charity.
I can't see them quietly standing to one side as organisations run and controlled by Deaf and Disabled people end the monopoly that they have enjoyed for the past 60-odd years.
Some of these organisations have already started an underhanded strategy by quoting the social model into their press handouts and publicity materials. Although this is as far as it goes, as their practices are still based solely upon the medical and charitable models of disability.
My mate Dawn runs the Mentally Wealthy blog and has some interesting postings around the subject of user involvement. Click here to visit her blog.
I'm currently doing some collaboration with Vicky Wright, disabled writer and actor (she recently played a lead role in the CH4 Cast Offs series) and you can see the result of our first piece together in her powerful open letter to the comedian Frankie Boyle. I'll keep you posted about any future work we do together ... Click here to visit Vicky's article.
Has anyone else noticed that having adopted our social model language, the big charities and government departments have started to twist the wording around so that the 'problem' is back with us crips?!
For example, a recent press release from the Department for Work and Pensions contains the lines: 'It is clear that the current assessments are failing to pick up on people with major barriers to work' (this refers specifically to Disabled people). Now we could be charitable and say that this misrepresentation of the Social Model concept is down to a lack of understanding and ignorance on their part. Or you could see this as yet another example of how 'they' are always going to label 'us' as the ones with the problem!
Still don't get what's happening here?!
Well, traditionally Disabled people have been seen as the ones with the problem and that we have to either be cured or fixed in some way in order to fit in with society. Along came the Social Model understanding of disability and the concept that 'it was society that was throwing up the barriers that disabled us' was introduced. As well as taking the 'blame' away from us crips it was now a much easier task to focus on society and identify and remove those barriers that were disabling us. Eventually this understanding was introduced into mainstream thinking and began to replace the Charitable Model understanding so loved by society and the many charities that had been set up to represent us, and also the Medical Model understanding which put the specialists in charge of our lives.
As I see it, this subtle change back to Disabled people 'owning' the barriers means that we've now come full circle, allowing society to opt out of its responsibilities once again and with us crips being at fault!
Where do we go from here I wonder?!
It's that time again and Disabled people are being asked to consider who we think will actually commit to an effective strategy regarding access and the removal of those barriers within society that still disable us.
It's a bit of a no-brainer when considering the track record of the conservative party (Tories) and I can't imagine anyone would fall for their current rhetoric and the dubious charms of Mr 'just call me Dave' Cameron!
OK, the Labour Party haven't actually covered themselves in glory regarding our cause, what with dismantling the Disability Rights Commission and setting us back to being the poor relation of equality once again.
Perhaps if the Green Party came out with a more structured disability agenda there would at least be an alternative for us voting crips. Or maybe, as I've suggested before it's time we started thinking about forming our own political party. There's certainly enough of us out there and together we could form a pretty formidable force for change.
So, in the meantime perhaps we'll be better off sticking with the devil we know as opposed to trusting anything that the Tories might be offering. What do you think?!
I've created so many cartoons over the years regarding the bottomless pit called the 2012 Olympics. Bottomless insofar as any and all available funding is being systematically sucked into its gaping maw, with nothing of any long-term substance being generated for Disabled people within the UK.
OK, it's great if you're one of those who enjoy participating within the spectacle know as the Para-Olympics with all of its associated terminology about achievement and overcoming adversity etc. But if, like many of us, you see it for what it really is, you'll have already worked out that the money thrown at it could fund hundreds of groups and organisations of Disabled people and have saved those that have already had to close their doors due to lack of funding.
So, with Boris terminating the project to make the underground accessible and plans to change all of our main shopping areas into shared environments (an accessibility nightmare), we're left with just some tokenistic changes whose main aim is to ensure that we have access to this one-off political event.
When the term 'full access' is subverted to only mean being able to travel between Olympic venues and to enjoy the Olympic process, then something has gone sadly wrong. Surely it would be a more sensible investment to use these funds to identify and remove ALL of the barriers within our society which will continue to effect us long after the Olympics have come and gone.
Sometimes when an old cynic like me thinks we are not making any progress and there’s too much of the same-old, same-old, I get a dig in the ribs and a reminder that us crips do occasionally have some influence. This nudge was another example of how we have penetrated the portals of policy and power.
Thanks to years of background work, solid research, lobbying, persuasion, arm-twisting and hard, under-funded graft by crips, disabled people’s (and carers´) organisations are now officially sexy and sought-after. There’s a big conference coming up this week run by the Department of Health on user-led organisations (ULO's). Of course lots of it now is in that impenetrable language – officialese – but there you go.
“The success and sustainability of User-Led Organisations is a vital part of the transformation of Adult Social Care and the wider personalisation agenda ... each Local Authority with social services responsibilities should have a User-Led Organisation in place by 2010. This conference is an opportunity to learn about and celebrate the successes achieved by ULO's ... ” goes the conference blurb.
Actually we do have something to celebrate here. These people just didn’t wake up one day and think “ah, let’s do something positive for the disabled [sic]”. Like with pushing for anti-discrimination legislation, like crips campaigning their guts out for direct payments (and individual budgets) and much, much more – being a thorn in the side of the Powers That Be does sometimes have an effect.
Before you think I’ve fallen into a vat of schmaltz and popped on a pair of rose-tinted specs, I hasten to assure you that the Crippen crap-o-meter is still pulsing. We need to see Councils putting some financial welly into all this to support crip organisations, properly and without strings attached.
We need to see this top-down rhetoric having a real effect locally – and – oh, please! – we need those medical-model, finance-gobbling, charity-focussed ‘for’ organisations to move over and let us take control of our lives.
A special thanks to Mrs Crippen for her invaluable input here.
Every now and then something catches my eye and I think, I've got a cartoon about that ... somewhere!
It was the same with an article that I was reading in a local paper someone had sent me from the North of England. In it the writer was telling her readers that if disabled people wanted to fit into society more easily, they should concentrate on looking more normal .... I kid you not!
I'd looked through my computerised cartoon catalogue (I've now got over a thousand cartoons in it!) and I still couldn't find the one about 'normality training' when I suddenly remembered. A little while ago I produced some cartoons for Colin Cameron, who had written an article for DAO regarding the Affirmative Model of disability. I'd actually produced about three cartoons for the article and I think our Editor (also a Colin) had ended up using all three. The 'normality training' cartoon was one of the three.
Now the cartoons that I produce for articles like this are filed in a seperate folder on the 'puter called special commissions. It hadn't occurred to me to place a copy of each of these cartoons in the general calalogue section. So there they stay, usually never seeing the light of day again unless something like this occurs. So I'm now going through all of the seperate commissions I've received over the past decade or pulling out the various cartoons and seeing if they'll do for the general catalogue as well, albeit with a few tweaks to make them less client specific. If I find anything else that I think is worth a second airing I'll post it up along with the story behind it.
By the way, if you missed Colin's article on the Affirmative Model please click on this link and it will take you to it. Thanks.
I thought we'd go the route of a little light relief this week, especially having lifted the lid of the so called 'assisted suicide' or 'mercy killings' again last week.
I often get asked for cartoons about specific situations, but it's rare that I get given an idea to develop as well. The other week a member of the Skegby Methodist Church, Alison wrote to ask if she could use a couple of my cartoons in an article she was writing as part of her course at University.
No problem ... and I sent her off some fresh computer images so that she wouldn't end up with a poor copy taken from wherever she'd seen them (I hate it when that happens by the way. You've only got to ask and, providing your a Crip or one of our allies I'll gladly send you a clean copy in this way). Back came another email thanking me for the images and also including the idea for this weeks cartoon.
Obviously based upon how Disabled people, especially wheelchair users suddenly become invisible when, for example queuing for something in a shop ("Oh sorry mate, didn't see you there" - having reached across the top of you to place his order!). It's a funny idea and I hope that my cartoon does it justice! Thanks Alison.
Hi folks. I'm starting 2010 as I mean to go on; gloves off and more in your face then ever before!
And my first question for this decade is: 'How much longer do we have to beat our heads against the wall of discrimination that exists in the UK?'
I don't know about you but I'm getting pretty pissed off about the lack of any real progress regarding public perception of us crips and our role in society. It's still mainly those over paid non-disabled parasites who run those big organisations that have been set up to represent us (but without including us in their management) who are perpetuating the 'Tiny Tim' image that society has of us. Let's face it, it's in their interest to preserve the status quo of disability as without it, they'd all be out of a job. It's also in the interests of the various government departments that control our finances, job prospects, etc to let these sanatised organisations continue to represent us. Imagine what could happen if they opted to speak to real Disabled people? It might mean them having to get off their fat-cat arses and start to address some of the real issues that exist for us!
And I also predict that you're going to see more Disabled people out on the streets protesting in the UK this year. Led by such organisations as the Direct Action Network (DAN) and some of the other larger groups of Disabled people, we'll be making our voices heard like never before.
So, fellow crips and non-disabled allies alike, prepare yourselves. It's going to be a lively year!
Our esteemed Editor Colin has invited the dao bloggers to look back over the past year and highlight some of the events that have crossed our keyboards.
Never one to stick to a brief and usually finding ways to expand the boundaries (Ed: Tell me about it!), I delved into my back-up hard drive, clicked on the folder marked 'the beginnings' and came across the original cartoon that had started me on my career as Crippen.
I've redrawn it several times since then, adding colour, altering the characters, etc., but the context has stayed the same - so called non-disabled expert hogging centre stage and expounding their views on disability, usually to the detriment of Disabled people.
So I think the real message here is that until we are allowed to participate fully at those policy making forums that are deciding our futures, run and control those charities and organisations that have been set up to represent us and make redundant all of those non-disabled parasites who are making a living off of our backs, only then will the need for such politically inspired cartoons end.
Until this time (and don't hold your breath!) I'll continue to bang on about the injustices that run riot through the disability arena.
Have a good rest during this holiday period and join me again in 2010, along with all of my colleagues at DAO.
Unfortunately, due to problems with t'internet I'm a bit late with this cartoon which was intended to come out during the recent Children in Need event on BBC Radio and TV. Still, better late than never ... and the idea of a Trojan Pudsey rather tickled me!
Needless to say, us Crips are still campaigning against this charitable farce. Our message is loud and clear and asks why do Disabled children still have to rely on this type of humiliationathon AND have to appear sufficiently grateful in order to get what should be there's by right (and to make the likes of Terry Wogan feel good about themselves)?!
When we were young, most of us had to endure this form of gate keeping as pretty well everything we needed to live within a hostile and non-accessible environment came through the charitable concerns set up to represent our particular form of impairment. We were expected to play the game and allow so called celebrities like Jimmy Saville to pose with us as we gratefully received our wheelchair or mobility aid.
Enough already ... give today's Disabled youngsters EVERYTHING that they need in order to achieve a level playing field. This includes access to an inclusive education, a fully integrated and accessible transport system, respite care for parents and siblings, access to free mobility aids and adaptations, full grants to make their property accessible, etc ... and all without them having to jump through these out dated and humiliating hoops!
What with our recent rant about Charities and the Lily Allen song that's being adopted by Gay Rights activists in Manchester, I thought we crips should get in on the act ... sorry about the language but it is in the lyrics of the song (bet I still get a comment from disgusted of Tonbridge Wells though!).
Incidentally, we're still having a problem with the comments section of this blog and you have to scroll down quite a way before you find it! Please do leave a comment as I'd love to hear what you think of the current cartoon. Thanks.
Contrary to public understanding, we Crips spend more time overcoming the negative effects we get from the various charities that claim to represent us, than we do benefiting from the services that they are supposed to provide.
“But where would you be without them?” I hear some of you ask.
Well, for a start we wouldn’t be seen as a pathetic, needy, homogeneous group of people, to be treated with either pity or contempt. We wouldn’t be made to jump through the many hoops that these organisations have set up for us, nor would we have to perform as grateful crips in front of an audience set up to applaud the achievements of the said organisations.
The damage caused to Disabled people by most of the bigger charities over the whole of the past century is incalculable. From locking us away in institutions and away from the mainstream society, to diagnosing our physical impairments as a ‘mental handicap’ and therefore denying us the right to an education, these organisations have a lot to answer for. Representatives of charities have also caused us to suffer sexual and physical abuse as well as instigating a programme of control which sole purpose was to disempower us and make us even more dependent upon them.
This ‘abuse’ still continues, albeit in a more subtle way than in the past. Each year an example of this ‘charitable model’ concept of disability is given hundreds of hours of air time on national radio and television as celebrities compete with each other to see who can perform the most embarrassing stunts in the name of Disabled children. The children are then trotted out and made to show how grateful they are.
Little wonder that one of the more popular groups amongst Disabled people on Facebook is the ‘I shot Pudsey Bear’ campaign. Admittedly some of the bigger charities are slowly starting to get their houses in order and have begun to recruit Disabled people to positions of influence on their management teams. Scope is one example of this.
However, others, having hijacked a lot of ‘our’ language from the Social model understanding of disability and presenting a more enlightened image, are still controlling the Disabled people that they claim to represent.
The old slogan ‘Rights, not charity’ is still as valid today as it ever was.
Has anyone else noticed that we’re in danger of slipping back to where we all started from?!
I’ve always seen the Disability Arts Movement as being in the vanguard of the Disabled People’s Movement. As Disabled artists we’ve focused upon our oppression and expressed this through our art. Together we’ve used the Social Model to identify and then confront the many barriers within society that conspire to disable us; the key word being ‘together’.
However, of late I’ve seen a slide back to the early days when we were all split up into impairment groups. You know the sort of thing; mobility impaired to the left, visually impaired to the right, learning disabled over there, Deaf people … well, you get the idea. And along with each impairment group came its organisation ‘for’ and its own route for funding etc.
Disability Arts focus seems to have got a bit wooly over recent years and it seems more about blending in with the mainstream and not making our unique stand as Disabled artists any more.
Or is it me? … I’m sure you’ll let me know!