What makes an influential disabled person?



How do you measure influence?

Now the process of collecting the names of the most influential disabled people in the UK is under way, it is time to begin fine-tuning exactly what we mean by influence and how we can measure and compare it.

But The List will only mean anything if disabled people themselves decide who should be on it, and how the relative places should be decided.

So here are some initial thoughts (some of them based on thoughts expressed by disabled people who have visited The List). Please feel free to adapt, disagree, cannibalise, demolish… or even agree.

Assuming there is some feedback, I’ll post another blog in due course summing up what people have said.

Here are some ways that a disabled person can influence our society (in no particular order):

by joining political parties

by using the parliamentary system to alter draft legislation

by helping to draw up draft legislation

by making television or radio programmes

by publishing newspapers or magazines or newsletters

by running websites and making podcasts

by performing

by creating art

by writing articles or speeches or scripts

by carrying out research

by inventing new products or services

by providing goods or services

by sitting on boards and committees

by holding senior positions in organisations, whether large or small

by organising or taking part in campaigns

by writing blogs and tweets

by responding to other people’s blogs and tweets

by training or teaching others, whether children or adults

by doing something that no-one else has done before

by doing something many other people have done before, but doing it better

by representing other people and fighting for their rights

by supporting and advocating for those unable to defend their own rights

by communicating with the media

by representing the UK in other countries

by entertaining the public

by contributing to the creation of new structures, including buildings

by engaging with powerful organisations, including companies, charities, the government and other public bodies

by challenging powerful organisations, including companies, charities, the government and other public bodies

by working for powerful organisations, including companies, charities, the government and other public bodies

by giving evidence in court cases and to inquiries

by sharing information with others…

I’m sure I’ve missed some out, but I think they cover to some degree everyone so far on the draft list.

So if those are some of the ways we can “influence” society, what else do we need to take into account in deciding just how influential a disabled person is?

Here are some of the questions that might be important:

How many people see/hear/read/share their work?

How much of this work is happening now rather than in the near or distant past?

How much are they listened to, rather than merely heard?

How many people’s lives are affected by the work they do?

How much time – due to their impairment or the barriers they face – do they have to do what they do?

Is their influence merely the result of a senior position in an influential organisation, or is it due to their own personal attributes?

How much do they influence mainstream society as well as other disabled people or just the disability movement?

Is their influence steady, falling, or growing?

I suspect that is more than enough. I would be grateful for any thoughts on the above, the latest step, I hope, in shaping something that will demonstrate how much disabled people – both in public and in private – contribute to modern Britain.

To take part in the discussion, please email: [email protected] or tweet @johnpringdns


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