Brighton celebrated the start of disability pride month by exploring the heritage and history of disability in a conference at Jubilee Library.
The event, held on Friday afternoon, explored experiences of disability, both natal and from injury, using data from the newly digitised 1921 census.
A panel spoke on topics such as the link between disability and the first world war, changes to language relating to disability and Brighton Dome’s past uses as a hospital for “limbless soldiers”.
Nicola Benge from Strike a Light Arts and Heritage said: “We wanted to give context to the experience of disabilities and disablement over the last 100 years and we thought we’d use disability pride month as a way to do that, to share activities and to offer it for free.
“It’s been a process of exploration and research, and sharing that history of how far we’ve come over the last century and also how far there still is to go.”
She said: “We’re looking at adaptations and anticipatory inclusion – making sure that, without people having to ask for it, we are anticipating those needs so we can really make our society as inclusive as possible.”
The event held alongside the library’s curation of books for disability pride month hosted speakers from the British Polio Fellowship, Diversity and Ability and Brighton Dome as well as the Strike a Light organisation.
Resources and signposting for research into insights from the 1921 census on disability were shared and Kripen Dhrona, CEO of the British Polio Fellowship discussed how recent cases of polio are reinforcing discussions around vaccines to prevent ‘long’ chronic conditions arising from viruses such as covid and polio.
Atif Choudhury from Diversity and Ability spoke about how lived experience of disablement and intersectional inclusion can help to unlock strengths in a team.
Liz Porter, community engagement manager at Brighton Dome explored previous usages of the concert hall and Corn Exchange, including as a protest hall hosting suffragette Mary Hare, who established a school for deaf children in 1895.
The panel discussions were recorded and can be found on the Strike a Light – Arts and Heritage YouTube channel soon.