Dr Theo Blackmore tells Disability United about why he investigated Cornwall’s history from the perspective of disabled people, and what he found in those interviews.

In 2014 I completed a video project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to collect the stories of disabled people living in Cornwall as part of the “Cornwall’s Disability History” project. I interviewed 22 people in total, which I then edited down into 15 videos which you can see here.

Some of the videos online are entire interviews, while some are grouped around key themes, including “Education”, “Employment” and “Working”.

These videos are of ‘normal’ disabled people – people going about their daily lives, having families, friends and maybe working or volunteering.

What became very clear was just how much some things have changed for the better for disabled people even within peoples’ lifetimes. We now take it for granted that many of us have access to electric wheelchairs, scooters, and can live more or less where we want to – though this is by no means true for all disabled people. Even 50 years ago, many of these things were not possible (electric scooters as we know them did not even exist in 1966).

What is also rather shockingly true is that there is still a lot of Disability Hate and Mate crime around. Cornwall has been in the headlines over the past ten or more years due to shocking incidents of abuse, and the incident where Councillor Brewer was splashed all over the press because of the negative statements he made.

I’ve had positive comments about these videos from all over the world. One person in Sweden said “These are not about Cornwall, they are about Disability!” I strongly believe that there is a need to replicate this project across the country – every area will have its own local history that needs to be recorded.

By Dr Theo Blackmore

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