A new lottery award is set to help young disabled people research and record the history of the disabled people’s movement in one of England’s biggest cities.
The Forging Our Future project will see younger disabled people – aged between 16 and 25 – provided with training so they can research the origins and history of the disabled people’s movement in Bristol from the early 1970s.
They will also record the stories of some of the disabled activists who played a role in the development of the movement.
Deaf young people will have the option of researching key moments in the city’s Deaf history.
Among the milestones in the city’s history of disability activism are protests and lobbying by disabled activists that resulted in significant access improvements to public buildings, heritage centres, and public transport in the city; campaigns to secure a centre for independent living in the city; and the early adoption of direct payments.
More recently, disabled asylum-seekers and activists came together two summers ago (pictured) to seek fundamental changes to the systems and agencies that were blamed for the brutal murders of two disabled refugees – Kamil Ahmad and Bijan Ebrahimi – in Bristol.
A group of older disabled people will support the young researchers, and will also receive training in how to assess the accessibility of heritage locations.
The disabled young people will produce a disability history resource for schools based on their research, and the older group of disabled people will develop guidelines for good practice in access to heritage organisations.
The project will be launched on Saturday (30 November), as part of this year’s Disability History Month.
The project is being run by the disabled-led charity Bristol Disability Equality Forum (BDEF), which has secured a grant of nearly £90,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF), and is supported by Bristol Museums and consultants Rowan Associates.
The forum hopes the project will connect young disabled people to their own history and inspire the next generation of disabled activists.
Laura Welti, BDEF’s manager, said: “We are delighted to have been given funding for this project.
“Deaf and disabled people’s experiences and achievements have been largely ignored when it comes to recorded history. Now we can begin to redress this.
“We believe access can only be got right when it reflects the diversity of Deaf and disabled people and involves them from first thoughts to post-implementation review.
“The project will therefore create a reference group that can be used in this way (for a reasonable cost) by any heritage destination seeking to be more accessible.”
She also praised NLHF, and said it was “amazing to have a funder who wasn’t expecting us to compromise on being accessible to all Deaf and disabled people, regardless of their access needs”.
The event will be held on Saturday (30 November), from 2pm-4pm, at the city’s M Shed museum of Bristol’s history
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