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Disability History Month 2019

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UKDHM in 2019 will focus on disabled leaders throughout history and their struggle for acceptance, with the theme of Leadership, Resistance and Culture. 

UKDHM will examine how the leaders of the disabled peoples movement managed to change the way disability was seen as a personal burden to a human rights issue through using the social model of disability from 1970 to the present and the lessons we learn from this. We will look at earlier examples of individual and collective resistance to the oppression disabled people have faced at work, in education, in their local community and at home and we will examine the culture of the disability arts movement from which they drew their collective strength. We will also examine the struggles of disabled people from earlier times for fairness and equality and a life worth living.To find out more about DHM click here.

Every week, we will be showcasing an extrodinary leader, and today we're starting with Helen Keller. American educator Helen Keller overcame the adversity of being blind and deaf to become one of the 20th century's leading humanitarians, as well as co-founder of the ACLU. 

She was examined by Alexander Graham Bell at the age of 6. As a result, he sent to her a 20-year-old teacher, Anne Sullivan (Macy) from the Perkins Institution for the Blind in Boston, which Bell’s son-in-law directed. Sullivan, a remarkable teacher, remained with Keller from March 1887 until her own death in October 1936.

Within months Keller had learned to feel objects and associate them with words spelled out by finger signals on her palm, to read sentences by feeling raised words on cardboard, and to make her own sentences by arranging words in a frame. During 1888–90 she spent winters at the Perkins Institution learning Braille. Then she began a slow process of learning to speak under Sarah Fuller of the Horace Mann School for the Deaf, also in Boston. She also learned to lip-read by placing her fingers on the lips and throat of the speaker while the words were simultaneously spelled out for her. At age 14 she enrolled in the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf in New York City, and at 16 she entered the Cambridge School for Young Ladies in Massachusetts. She won admission to Radcliffe College in 1900 and graduated in 1904.

We end the article with one of her quotes: 'The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart.'




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