Disability History Scotland is a disabled people’s organisation advocating the advancement of equality and diversity through the promotion of disability history, education and campaigning. We are committed to active participation, offering a view of history which includes disabled individuals and the many achievements they have made which, to this day, contribute to society.
In autumn 2010 a group of disabled people from trade unions and community organisations met and agreed to establish UK Disability History Month. We felt there was a need to have a specific time of year when the history of our struggle for equality and liberation could be focused on. At very short notice, a series of events were held throughout England, but not in Scotland, so in 2011 a small group of disabled people formed Disability History Month Scotland (DHMS) with the endorsement and support of the UK Disability History Month steering group.
The theme for DHMS 2011 was ‘Celebrating Our Struggle for Equality’ in order to reflect on our history as disabled people in Scotland and our campaign for civil rights. This theme was also relevant to more current events such as the ‘Hardest Hit’ demonstrations in May and October 2011 and the recent attacks on the rights, dignity and standards of living of disabled people throughout the UK.
We put together several public events, an official launch and a national conference which were both very successful. We are determined to build on this and make DHMS an annual fixture that is recognised throughout Scotland. We held an open meeting in February 2012 where the decision was taken to establish Disability History Scotland, which incorporates Disability History Month Scotland, with our aim being to make sure that the history of disabled people in Scotland is not forgotten, and that the lessons of the past are learned.
Our vision is to provide a platform building on our early acheivments. The platform has three distinct strands:
We recognise that disabled people have many more identities such as parent, worker, home owner, wife, grandparent, neighbour etc. Our work is to promote the idea that these are all part of who we are and we are not only disabled people. We work collaboratively in an attempt to share knowledge and power, as well as to recognize that we can not speak for others so should never assume that we have any answers other than what we ourselves know and what we hear directly from other disabled people. We use art and different artistic media as a way to engage people, drama, song, animation, have all been used effectively. Our talks or public meetings are normally accompanied by some stunning images that allow people to see disability in different ways.