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Recognising the contributions of people with disability

In this video, academics discuss the importance of recognising the contributions of people with disabilities from history.

One of the simplest ways people with disabilities are challenging assumptions about being passive, dependent, and unproductive is by reclaiming stories of famous disabled people from the past who made significant contributions to society.

Watch the video above, or look at the following websites:

Tom Shakespeare: “Our statures touch the skies” blog
All of the people mentioned in these resources made great contributions to the societies in which they lived and worked. In addition to people you may have heard of — like Emily Dickinson, Winston Churchill, and Frida Kahlo — there are many distinguished disabled people from history who have been forgotten. As Tom and Rosemarie explain, reclaiming different stories from the past can help to raise awareness of the different ways people with disability are actively contributing in society today.

Talking points

  • Take note of who is mentioned in the video and on the linked websites. Are you surprised by how many famous people were/are disabled?
  • Can you think of any famous people with disabilities in your own local history?
  • Are there particular stories that highlight the value of contributions by disabled people for you?

In the next step, we look at a wide range of ways that people with disabilities are contributing to society.

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Disability and a Good Life: Working with Disability

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