A History of Disability from a Disability Arts perspective


Disability Arts Online and cartoonist Dave Lupton aka Crippen, presents a resource document in the form of a PDF download, which encapsulates an alternative history of disability

A black and white photograph of protesters carrying a large banner which reads ‘Not charity but social justice’

Photograph from the Greater Manchester Disabled People’s Archive of the 1920 march of blind workers

To the uninitiated, Disability Art conjures an image of a disabled person struggling to paint by clutching a paint brush between their teeth or toes. However, nothing could be more from the truth as throughout the course of the disabled peoples’ struggle for equal rights, Disability Arts, in all of it’s diversity has played a vital role.

Whether through the medium of the protest song, the caustic wit of the cartoon or satirical performance, the disabled artist has been there alongside those who have taken their protest onto the streets.

25 years on from the inauguration of the Disability Discrimination Act, and following on from a joint project with our friends at Explore York called The Unlikely History of Disability Arts, Dave Lupton, aka Crippen, cartoonist and writer, has produced a resource document that gives an overview of recorded evidence of disability representation within cultures throughout the world.

We’ve called it an ‘unlikely’ history because it goes against the grain of accepted prejudice. The overview of our history begins with the first recorded instance of disability art – seen painted onto the walls of a cave in the Drakensberg Park in South Africa in 4000 BC – and takes us on a whistle-stop tour up until present times.

A History of Disability records societies ever-changing attitudes, both positive and negative and how events were reflected in the actions of leaders and protests from disabled people. It gives an overview of the fluid responses of societies worldwide towards their disabled members and the ongoing struggles of disabled people to see their rights enshrined in law and statute. This document takes on an enlightening journey through the archives bringing us up to date with a detailed account of the impact in the past 30 years with particular reference to the UK history of the current Disabled Peoples’ Movement.

Click on this link to download a History of Disability from a Disability Arts Perspective

Below is an audio version of the PDF download.