Disabled people are less integrated into society now than in the past, says historian

Posted by er134 at May 23, 2013 02:30 PM |
University of Leicester historian Professor Steven King to speak on Radio 4 programme exploring the lives of disabled people through history

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 23 May 2013

Disabled people were much more integrated into society in the past than they are today, a Leicester historian will explain on BBC Radio 4.

Professor Steven King, Director of the University’s Centre for Medical Humanities, will appear on broadcaster Peter White’s A History of Disability series, due to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in late May and June.

He will also appear on Radio 4’s daily consumer programme You and Yours on May 31.

He will talk about his research into sickness and poverty since the 1750s – and will put forward the view that the more we have legislated for disabled rights, the more marginalised disabled people have become.

Professor King’s research draws from the archives of the local and national poor law - the precursor to the Welfare state - particularly letters written by the disabled poor.

The research feeds into a paper he is currently working, titled “Waste people? The disabled and their communities 1750-2000s.

Professor Steven King said: “In the past, the disabled were more keenly ingrained in society than is the case today because there were just so many of them and their lives were played out in the public domain. They were literally everywhere and even once the institutionalisation of groups like the blind and deaf began in earnest from the 1870s, the disabled were still everywhere.

“Despite the views of some historians and plenty of lay commentators, the disabled were often regarded with affection by communities. They had rights, communities had duties and the disabled were not pushed to the edges of their communities, no matter how trendy it is to think that we have moved on.

“As we have legislated more and more for disabled rights and duties, so we have pushed the disabled towards the edges of their communities."

Peter’s White’s A History of Disability series will be broadcast from May 27-31 and June 3 to 7 at 1.45pm, BBC Radio 4.

Professor King will appear in the episodes on May 27 and June 3, as well as the omnibus editions on May 31 and June 7 at 8pm. He will also appear on Radio 4’s You and Yours on Friday, May 31 at 12 noon.


Notes to media:

Professor Steven King, Director of the University’s Centre for Medical Humanities, can be contacted on 0116 252 2760 or at: sak28@le.ac.uk

More information about the University of Leicester’s Centre for Medical Humanities can be found at: http://www2.le.ac.uk/research/centres/medical-humanities-research-centre

More information about Peter White’s A History of Disability can be found at: http://loftusmedia.co.uk/radio/upcoming-programmes/a-history-of-disability/

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