In 1976 the Union of Physically Impaired Against Segregation published their seminal manifesto ‘Fundamental Principles of Disability’ which provided the following definition of disability;
“Impairment : lacking part of or all of a limb, or having a defective limb, organ or mechanism of the body.
Disability: the disadvantage or restriction of activity caused by a contemporary social organisation which takes no or little account of people who have physical impairments and thus excludes them from participation in the mainstream of social activities. Physical disability is therefore a particular form of social oppression”.
(Fundamental Principles of Disability, p.14)
The manifesto held the concept of the social model of disability, arguing that people were disabled by society, not by their bodies.
Continuing this work is local charity Izzysbusy who visited Southlands High School to promote their mission to change how society views disability. Izzysbusy was launched in 2012 by Rick Bolton who was inspired to set up the charity when his son Isaac was born with quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Rick explained to the students that Isaac is determined and happy. As he is only two years old, Isaac is innocent as to what his future holds, and how people may treat him, that is why his family could not fail to be inspired to make a difference for Isaac and for other children with a physical impairment.
Rick Bolton provided the students with examples of how language used to describe disability is put in a derogatory way to label those with a physical impairment and why this can cause upset. He explained how the term ‘disability’ was incorrectly used in many day to day scenarios.
“The disabled car parking space- is the piece of tarmac in the space ‘disabled’? The disabled toilet- is the toilet ‘disabled’? No. These are facilities that are accessible to those with a physical impairment but the items themselves are not disabled” – Rick Bolton
The message from the presentation was clear; what does disability mean to you? Is it a “can’t do” or a “can do when the persons needs are met?”
Students were encourage to change the language used to describe disability and in doing this they can play a role in changing people’s ideas which will then change society.
“You can be the one to make a 1% difference to how you think and how those close to you think about disability. That 1% is yours. Together, you can combine to make a huge difference.” – Rick Bolton
Following the presentation, students were keen to ask questions which impressed Rick with their eagerness to get involved in the charity and make a difference. There are plans to spread the Izzysbusy message throughout the rest of school and to the wider community so that we can all be inspired by Isaac.