Thursday, 31 March 2011

Bob Williams-Findlay:Lifting the Lid on Disabled People Against Cuts

Bob Williams-Findlay, MAC 2001
Picture by Pete Millington 
Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) was formed by a small group of disabled people after the first mass protest against the austerity cuts and their impact on disabled people held on the 3rd October in Birmingham, England. The march was led by disabled people under the name of The Disabled Peoples’ Protest. DPAC isn’t a formal organisation but rather a collective of individuals seeking to campaign alongside those who believe that disabled people should have full human rights and equality. Our campaign is for everyone who refuses to stay silent about the injustices delivered by wealthy politicians on ordinary people and their lives.

At first glance our campaign name: Disabled People Against Cuts seems fairly straight forward – just like that famous label on the tin – but the co-founders of DPAC have a deep distrust of labels and believe it is dangerous to simply take things at face value. I thought it might be interesting to take the lid off DPAC and explore the possible meanings that can be attached to our name. The reason I’m engaging in this exercise isn’t because I’m bored with nothing better to do; it is because I want to challenge some of the approaches that have been adopted in recent months in relation to the impact of the cuts on disabled people.

For me disability is a political question; it isn’t simply about a collection of individuals who just happen to have significant impairments. There is no agreement within society as to what “disability” is and subsequently who it affects. There are dominant set of ideologies and practices which Mike Oliver has presented as ‘the individual model of disability’ and there is a radical alternative known as ‘the social model’ which has come through the Disabled People’s Movement. (1) It is also important to state that there are a host of hybrids which employ aspects of both models as well. (2) I work largely from within the social model of disability and it is from this perspective I’ll be exploring the current approaches on display. My starting point is the crucial question: who and what are disabled people?

Read Bob's full article on the DPAC website

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