History of disability

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A short history of attitudes to disability

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History of disability

  1. 1. How Disability has been perceived through History
  2. 2. Medieval Times - 10501485 Attitudes were mixed, people thought that disability – •was a punishment for sin, • the result of being born under the hostile influence of the planet Saturn, •Or that disabled people were closer to God, suffering purgatory on earth and so would get to heaven sooner. Services and support •most disabled people lived and worked in their communities, supported by family and friends. •If they couldn't work, their town or village might support them, •sometimes people resorted to begging. •Some were cared for by monks and nuns as their Christian duty. •a network of hospitals based in (or near) religious establishments began to emerge. Specialist hospitals for leprosy, blindness and physical disability were created. England's first mental institution was the Bethlehem hospital (‘Bedlam‘) in London. •Almshouses were founded to provide a supportive place for disabled people and others in need of support to live.
  3. 3. Tudor England – 16th Century Attitudes • some people with learning difficulties seen as ‘Natural Fools’ •Poor Law Acts punished sturdy ‘vagabonds’ who were seen as idle by choice. They could be whipped and branded. •The ‘impotent poor’ were viewed differently. People ‘naturally disabled’ were provided for by overseers. Services and support •Henry VIII destroyed the monasteries and with them the hospitals, only Bethlehem Hospital survived. •Gradually new hospitals and almshouses were opened as care began to be seen as a civic duty. •Mental illness began to be seen as a medical issue
  4. 4. 18th Century - 16601832 Attitudes •Madness began to be seen as an illness rather than having a religious or astrological cause. Similarly regarding physical impairment. •Seen as unfortunate and deserving of charity Services and support •Bethlehem hospital was rebuilt after the Great Fire •Royal Chelsea and Greenwich Hospitals for disabled service men •Quakers set up the York Retreat for disabled people, including those with mental health issues. •The first specialist schools for children who were “deaf and dumb” or blind. •Private “madhouses” •The idea that institutions were the right places for people was beginning to grow.
  5. 5. 19th Century Attitudes •During the Industrial revolution attitudes hardened, less sympathy. •Belief that giving support to people would make them lazy. Services and support •From a few hundred people in 9 asylums at the start of the century, to 100,000 in 120 ‘county pauper asylums’ and a further 10,000 in workhouses by 1900. •Nevertheless many people still lived in the community. •Growth of special schools and charities.
  6. 6. 20th Century – first half Attitudes •Return of 2 million disabled servicemen after the Great War changed attitudes, disabled people were seen less as a burden. •However, the rise of eugenics movement led to the belief that disabled people were a threat to the health of the nation. •In Germany up to 250,000 disabled people were killed through the T4 programme. •Services and support •New services and interventions developed for disabled service personnel. It was a time of innovation in prosthetics for example. •Rural colonies were built for people with learning difficulties.
  7. 7. 20th Century – post war Attitudes •Eugenics no longer popular •300,000 disabled service personnel and shortage of none-disabled men led to a focus on getting disabled people into work. Services and support •1944 Disabled Persons Employment Act. •1948 introduction of the welfare state and the national health service. •DIG (Disablement Income Group, 1965) considered the first pan- impairment pressure group in Britain. Campaigned for the introduction of a full disability income through social security for all disabled people. •1974 UPIAS (Union of Physically Impaired Against Segregation) – social model of disability •1981 Jay Report, and institutional scandals which prompted it, led to closure of many asylums and a new era of “Community Care” •1995 Disability Discrimination Act
  8. 8. More information • http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/discover/peo • http://www.disability-equality.org.uk/uploads/file • http://ukdisabilityhistorymonth.com/what_is _/

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