Many, many posts over the last 5 years have highlighted the considerable debates going on regarding disability issues (welfare, employment, media portrayal etc.), as well as the place of disability itself within wider agendas (poverty, rights, legislation etc.)
And many various posts in the last few months have discussed both fundamental debates about the underpinnings of disability (‘sickness’ and ‘disability’, questions around the social model, the unity or separateness of different impairment groups etc.) and the current state of the Disability Rights Movement itself.
Pulling all of this together, we can see the Disability Rights Movement to have lost direction, become narrow and not at all cohesive compared to where it has previously been.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this and what can be done about it. With so many fundamental questions, my feeling is it’s difficult to draw any kind of overall picture that might have an element of cohesion or consensus behind it. Without such cohesion or consensus, any attempts at future improvement are much less likely to be successful. Trying to draw such a picture is, I think, what the calls for a Disability Rights Taskforce have been driving at: the establishment of a process that can explore a wide range of questions that are of different orders.
A Disability Rights Taskforce would therefore be how we can paint the picture that needs to be painted. To this end, we might think of the job of any Disability Rights Taskforce to be as follows:
By having such a process and being explicit about the different levels of issues to consider, I think we can give ourselves the best opportunity to create a cohesive Disability Rights Movement for the 21st century. If we move too quickly to the questions of strategy or tactics without considering the principles these need to be based on, we would run the risk of not creating a 21st century Disability Rights Movement that can build on and learn from the successes of the 20th century Disability Rights Movement.
Two questions flow from this:
- What do you think?
- Who do we need to persuade to make this happen?
 – Neil first mentioned a Disability Rights Taskforce, building on a previous idea about a commission on the future of disability rights in Britain.