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.
Most of you will have either seen it (or heard the audio description) or will have read about it. Either way, you'll have realised just what an impact the new Channel 4 series Cast Offs, starring REAL disabled people in the roles of the disabled characters has had on the disabled community. Fed up to the back teeth with non-disabled actors playing disabled characters, crips around the UK have voted a resounding YES! for this pioneering piece of television comedy drama.
The episode that has stayed in my mind starred the indomitable Vicky Wright (despite one of the non-disabled characters who seemed to have modelled himself upon Ricky Gervais hogging a lot of the script), I found that particular episode stood well on its own with a story line that made you work a little. The opening scene where 'April' looks at herself in the mirror, applies lip stick and gives herself a smile only to come back seconds later and wipe the lipstick off was a provocative portrayal of just how vulnerable we crips can feel at times, despite the war paint.
Vicky, as with Mat Frazer and the other disabled actors have shown through this pioneering piece of work that we're not just the pathetic recipients of charity that the mainstream press and television usually portray us as.
In one of the many interviews given by the actors involved Vicky commented: “This is not something that’s really been seen before, showing us as adults who drink, swear and have sex. I am sure there are going to be a lot of people saying, ‘My goodness, I didn’t know disabled people could do that’.”
Joel Wilson, one of the producers, has said: “I hope that this will do for disability what Queer as Folk [the 1990s drama about gay men in Manchester] did for gay people: make people see that disabled people are no more and no less fucked up than anyone else.”
Some of the criticism I've heard about the series from other crips has not actually been about the quality of the programme itself. It's been more about the fact that the writers have once again focussed more on the physical aspects of impairment, leaving out the high percentage of those with hidden impairments (disabilities) who are amongst the number of disabled people within the UK. Admittedly there was some reference to the people involved having experienced mental health issues, such as depression and being effected by the way in which society perceived them, but I think this is a valid point. It's also a good argument for commissioning a new series that involves some additional disabled characters!
This time of year I'm often asked to produce cartoons for christmas cards for the many groups and organisations of Disabled people throughout the UK.
This year however, there's been a noticeable reduction in these requests, mainly due, I'm told, to the fact that many of these organisations are just too strapped (lacking funds) to be able to afford to have cards printed and posted this year.
So, in the spirit of good will and co-operation that exists at this time of year I thought it would be a nice idea to post one of my favourite christmas cartoons and dedicate it to all of those organisations of Disabled people that are continuing to fight for their very existence.
And if you haven't received a card from your local Crip group this year, please accept this one on their behalf. And why not make it your New Year resolution to pop down there and see if there's anything you can do to help raise the funding needed to continue their vital work during 2010.
Not having had access to a UK television, I've not been able to see the new crip series Cast Offs on Channel Four. However, I have seen most of the reviews and other material that's been available on t'internet so I've had a pretty good idea of the story line, etc.
I'm also fortunate in knowing several of the disabled actors who are appearing in the series so, what with Facebook and our other networking resources, I'm slowly gathering enough material for a commemorative cartoon about this unique event. Unique in as much that this is the first time a mainstream television company has produced a programme about Disabled people, starring REAL Disabled actors, farts and all!
So, 'cause I'm not quite ready for the cartoon (phew, I hear Vicky and Mat say!) I got to wondering who else might be inspired by the programme ...
Having been in a similiar situation myself, I empathised with an email I received the other day relating a story about a sadistic Occupational Therapist (OT).
The bottom line was that the crip in question was being denied the use of a wheelchair because her OT considered that it would make her lazy. The fact that by using a walking frame rendered our crip totally exhausted everytime she used it, also meant that any time she had between periods of travel were spent recovering for the next part of the journey.
Never mind that a wheelchair would make the travelling around easier and therefore allow her to spend the times in between doing something more productive!
Unless she can raise the money herself to buy a wheelchair privately, our gatekeeping OT is sticking to his determined course of 'therapy' because he 'knows what's best for her'.
So if you see a young crip draped over a walking frame fast asleep, try not to wake her up...she's probably just got back from another visit to the OT department!