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Many people do not realize that disabled people have led the way for around 100 years in campaigning for rights. Since the first recorded organisation of disabled people formed in 1890 (British Deaf Association), disabled people have grown into a strong campaigning force.
In 1974 The Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS) was formed following a letter by Paul Hunt to the Guardian. In this letter he called for disabled people to form a “consumer group” to put forward the views of disabled people. UPIAS identified the barriers disabled people face in society as the reason for us being disabled people, not the medical conditions (impairments) that we have.
This was a considerable breakthrough and is the foundation for the ethos of the Disabled People’s Movement, campaigning for the removal of barriers to disabled people’s inclusion in society.
In the 1970s disabled people’s activities were very much locally based, although some disabled people in Greater Manchester were members of UPIAS and fed its politics back into the local groups.
In 1980, Dorothy Whitaker, who was employed by Greater Manchester Council for Voluntary Services, was given the brief of looking at what should happen in the International Year of Disabled People (1981) in Greater Manchester. She met with key disabled people across Greater Manchester and was able to introduce them to each other, so that they could share their ideas.
At the end of the International Year of Disabled People, a core group continued to meet together in the evenings at the St Thomas Centre, Manchester, and a decision was made to form an organisation that would work across Greater Manchester and tackle the issues that affect disabled people’s lives.
In June 1985 an event was held at County Hall, Manchester, for disabled people, which was attended by 100+ people. At the end of this meeting a vote of confidence was given to try and form a Coalition of Disabled People in Greater Manchester. The discussions from this meeting formed the aims, objectives and constitution of the Coalition.
The rest is history!
This booklet was produced by GMCDPin 2010, to highlight the history of disabled people’s self-organisation.
To view a pdf version of the booklet, click: Booklet A Brief History of Disabled People’s Self-Organisation.
To download a word version, click: Booklet A Brief History of Disabled People’s Self-Organisation.
In 2006, GMCDP undertook a short project using oral history methods, to record the experiences of disabled people who have lived and/or worked in Ardwick (Manchester). The project produced an exhibition made up of 15 display panels.
Here are: the display panels; a description in words of the display panels; and the final project report.