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September 2nd, 2008

Themes today

Many of the prejudiced attitudes that still exist today have their foundations in these longstanding historical influences.

Various aspects of medical treatment and care in the UK, USA and Europe are causing great concern to the disability movement, eg:

• Cut-backs in the welfare state, rationing health care;
• ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ policies (decided by medical staff) for some disabled people;
• Growing demands for voluntary euthanasia which, in some cases, can be misused to dispose of a ‘burdensome’ disabled person;
• The prospect of designer babies, using the knowledge gleaned from the Genome Project, further marginalising people with impairments.

A list of people in history who might not have existed if such policies had operated in the past would include:

Beethoven (deaf)

Toulouse Lautrec (short stature)

Stephen Hawking (motor neurone disease)

Einstein (dyslexic)

Byron (club foot)

F.D. Roosevelt (polio in both legs and unable to walk unaided).

Winston Churchill (depression)

Helen Keller (deaf, blind)

Tanny Grey Thompson, athlete (spina bifida) … and many others.

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For the History of People with Disabilities

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