Disability History Scotland aims to involve disabled people in the cultural, social, and political life of communities across Scotland.
We are launching a series of activities and courses which will enable disabled people to explore different topics and themes. These have been designed to encourage disabled people to find and use their own voice to make history by challenging a disabling society.
The activities that have been outlined are dependent on what YOU all think are most relevant. So, the activities with the most interest will take place sooner. Individuals can express interest in as many of the activities as they like, the more the better!
Here is some background information on the different activities Disability History Scotland is currently running, as well as ideas for the future. Further details will be made available once we know which activities are most popular.
Option 1: Justice Not Charity, Was Their Cry
The National League of the Blind (NLB) was established in 1894 to represent the interests of sight impaired people. It quickly developed a reputation for militancy and direct action in support of the civil and employment rights of blind workers. Increasing numbers of visually impaired people, due to the Great War, resulted in frequent NLB challenges to workplace exploitation and government inaction. In April 1920, these disputes led to the first long distance protest march in the UK, with blind demonstrators converging on Trafalgar Square from all over Britain.
Justice Not Charity, Was Their Cry will explore the little known Scottish dimension of the march by investigating Scottish popular press representation and archival evidence in the records of trade unions and organisations of and for blind people.
Working alongside historian Dr. Jennifer Novotny, DHS is now looking for volunteer Citizen Researchers to assist the project over a six-month period.
Option 2: Read, Think, Talk
This is a reading group to promote critical thinking, or in plain language, a reading group which encourages people to form their own ideas. No ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers, just endless different ways of interpreting history and the society we live in.
The group will meet once a month and decide for themselves what to read and discuss.
Option 3: Who Do We Think We Are?
Disabled people are often shown as victims or heroes, super-villains or superstars. Where do these ideas and stereotypes come from? Who decides what to label us? In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, was the ‘monster’ evil or just different?
The world around is made up of sound and images, newspapers, radio, film and television all shape what is accepted as ‘normal’. This group will critically analyse mass media to uncover the narratives it often uses to portray disability. Historical and contemporary sources will be drawn on to make sense of the news behind the news.
Option 4: Mash It Up
Using a wide variety of mixed media techniques such as Cut-Ups, Collage and Black-Out we’ll create our own stunning images. These methods are excellent because you don’t need to be good at painting or drawing to make great art. All that’s needed is imagination and something to say. (If you want to see some awesome Cut-Ups, check out the work we did with Inclusion Scotland in March.)
We’ll talk about the history of Cut-Ups and Collage and the artists who used them to produce ground breaking social commentary. We’ll demonstrate practical examples of Mash-Up techniques for you to develop your own ideas and unique designs.
Throughout 2018 we are aiming to run a longer project, mashing-up the Victorian gothic novella The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde, using mixed media techniques and digital imaging.
Option 5: Framing Our Lives
Through photography, participants will record their individual and collective lived experiences. The group will talk about what they want to capture, and learn techniques for producing powerful photographs. These pictures will form an historical account of what it’s like to be a disabled person in Scotland today.
No previous knowledge of photography is required, but it would be useful if you have a smart phone or digital camera.