This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit

Disability Arts Online

> > Crippen

Pigeon holed

During the course of my career as Crippen I’ve produced lots of cartoons relating to the concept of labeling people. It’s quite a simple notion to illustrate, with actual labels hung around the neck of various individuals to indicate the diagnosis they had been given by many a so called disability professional.

It also makes life far simpler for society when individuals can be pigeon holed and identified as belonging to one group or another in this way. The classic one is the use of the term the disabled which puts us all together in a neat little box along with the assumption that we’re all the same; have the same likes and dislikes; function in the same way, etc., (I covered this back in April 08). mad cartoon

One of the main areas where labeling comes into its own is within the field of mental health. It simplifies things to hang the label ‘schizophrenic’ around someone’s neck, for example, as this diagnosis not only brings its own established medication regime, but also reduces the need for any additional spending on expensive one-to-one therapy. To then allow other agencies, such as the tabloid press to hang additional labels like potential ‘axe murderer’ or ‘danger to society’ on them as well, is all part of the greater labeling game and justifies this form of treatment (the fact that a person with a mental illness is more likely to end up self harming is lost in the general course of events).

This cartoon came about after a discussion with an elderly ex-psychiatric nurse (or mental nurse as he described himself). He strongly believed that the old ways were the best, when he was equipped with a set of keys and was given the task of ‘keeping the nutters off the streets and safely behind locked doors’ (his words). Afterwards I got to thinking about his way, and the modern, so called enlightened way of controlling people with medication. I couldn’t help but compare the old locked wards regime and the chemical straight jackets that are now employed. Not much has changed really has it?!

Bonkersfest - The trouble with living in Spain is that I miss out on a lot of the UK disability arts stuff that's happening. Did many of you get to the BonkersFest on the 19th July? I know Dolly was there with her ladder and her light bulb (read about it in her blog on this site). Here's the link for the festival if you're interested in going next year.

Don't forget - If you want to see an enlarged image, or want to access a description of the cartoon accompanying this blog, then just click on the cartoon itself and it will open as an enlarged version with description. To get back to the main blog page afterwards, just click on the 'left' arrow at the top of your browser.

Posted by Dave Lupton, 25 July 2008

Last modified by Dave Lupton, 7 February 2009

Giving notice

I heard a funny story from a Disabled friend the other day. He’s been working as an access auditor in one of the big hospitals in the North of England and really felt that he was starting to get through to them. blindsign cartoon

They’d initially thought that all they had to do was improve their wheelchair access and that would be that! The fact that they also had to work at their signage and communication, along with other non-physical aspects came as a bit of a surprise to them apparently.

The story centres on the Outpatients Department and the ways that they facilitated various groups of patients as they arrived for their appointments. He’d already had to point out to the reception staff of the Audiology (hearing) section that calling out the names of people waiting to see the hearing Consultants wasn’t exactly a very viable method!

After several feed-back sessions with the various team leaders involved, he was invited to revisit the Ophthalmology section (sight). They were extremely pleased with themselves and pointed out that they now had information in Braille and large print at their reception counter, and had made sure that blind (sic) people coming into the general department knew where to obtain this. The cartoon alongside summarises their solution!

Posted by Dave Lupton, 18 July 2008

Last modified by Dave Lupton, 7 February 2009

Damn nation

You’ll remember that the government provoked uproar among Disabled people last year when it announced that it would be introducing a single equality duty in place of the disability equality duty (DED).

This new bill, according to the blurb sent out about it is designed to strengthen existing laws and bring nine separate anti-discrimination laws, including the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), into a single piece of legislation.

The DDA was admittedly not the best piece of disability legislation ever passed, but still, it did get public bodies to consider how their spending decisions, employment practices and service delivery would affect us crips. As I understand it, this new single equality duty would only require authorities to set equality objectives and take proportionate steps to achieve them. So once again this effectively allows service providers to set their own agenda - and this is a step forward?! Or am I missing something?!

Disability campaigners have said they are encouraged by new government proposals for an equality bill, but insist that there are still gaps that need plugging. GAPS! I think I’ll just leave my cartoon to say what I think about that!

Posted by Dave Lupton, 11 July 2008

Last modified by Dave Lupton, 7 February 2009

Rough Justice

Three men who repeatedly kicked, punched and stamped on a Disabled man over a £5 bet to see who could knock him out first, have won reductions in their minimum sentences at the Court of Appeal.

William Hughes, 22, Marcus Miller, 16, and Stephen Bonallie, 17, were sentenced to minimum prison terms of between 15 and 22 years after killing Brent Martin, 23, on Sunderland’s Town End Farm estate in August of last year. After the attack, the men posed for pictures and left Brent dying next to a parked car. He later died in hospital. But now all three have successfully appealed against their minimum terms - the shortest period they must serve before they can apply for parole.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, Mr Justice Goldring, and Mr Justice Plender, sitting at the Court of Appeal in London, overturned the original ruling and have reduced the term on all three men.

So the message would seem to be that it's OK to kill Disabled people, and that we cannot expect to be protected by the law when this happens. These criminals beat a man to death because he was Disabled. Who's next I wonder - the Elderly, Ethnic minorities, you ... me?!

Posted by Dave Lupton, 4 July 2008

Last modified by ben paley, 15 July 2008