Segregation In the UK was pretty limited by the time I started school in 1982 (it suited a rightwing agenda of closing residential homes and in the late 90s we had a more leftwing government than I suspect we will ever see again, thus giving people a limited but more positive perspective on disability than it now has and a greater freedom to disabled people. I grew up assuming I was apolitical but it’s not a privilege we have this decade and I can now spot ways in which the political agenda changes our progress as either disabled or LGBT.
I think UK disabled people consider ourselves extremely isolated and marginalised and more so in the last eight years with the rise of anti welfare propaganda (for want of a better phrase) but as with LGBT issues the UK and the USA can be worlds apart. I suspect different health and welfare systems (and other factors) created a superficially different attitude to disability and although the litigious nature of US systems seems to allow disabled people to access their rights in a crisis, I’m also aware from what little contact I’ve had with American culture and discussions on disability (books and FB friends) that it’s a very different landscape in Disability Studies terms. I’m no longer a Disability Studies student as such and was self-taught on the theory with my main degrees being in English Literature but my area of interest was historical attitudes to disability (sic) and ‘deformity’.
In rights terms at the moment we are skating on thin ice in the UK with both the impact of the cuts and the attempts to scrap the Human Rights Act and closure of things like Remploy and the Independent Living Fund raising obvious questions about any Government claims to protect the ‘most vulnerable’. Despite more visibility in the mainstream press than for 30 years disability politics and disablism is still seen as a largely personal and private problem by the general public despite the massive focus of our government on cutting benefits and support structures using stigma and misinformation. We are struggling to have rational debate or to bring disability Studies and Disability Politics together with Disability Rights campaigning. It’s that fracture which has made me keen to have more academic conversations on this. Interestingly you are not the first person studying disability in the USA who has mentioned a low spread of USA articles even though I often find the best written popular stuff is American. My husband suggested I write to Leeds Disability Studies department for more information on UK LGBT and disability groups.
My paragraphing and punctuation may be a bit erratic as my brain doesn’t seem to have repaired that skill as fast as some others , probably due to the spatial and logical cognitive issues I already had before the later issues. I have mild left hemiplegic CP with some other health issues and use a wheelchair over longer distances these days. I noticed you mentioned ASL or was that just a general access reference? I also wonder how often I was literally blind to queer students or tutors culture because cognitive and visual deficits which I believe you may call non verbal learning disabilities prevent my picking up some social cues!
I stumbled back into academic and queer spaces after having to relearn some skills due to later damage to my memory and mental health problems because a friend shared my blog post about my experiences as a UK disabled woman enduring discrimination during pregnancy. A very academic and bland way of saying that a doctor wanted me to terminate my pregnancy allegedly on mental health grounds and I did not agree! On that topic, I know I have more to write and research but it is a taboo largely only covered by those who are hostile to disabled people as parents. https://ladycrookback.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/choice-is-optional/
Interesting question of who is actually being more accessible and why. Levels of segregation may make a difference?
I came out to myself very late – last year after I accidentally joined a FB page with a lot of American LGBT members when it had all been going round in my head anyway! It might have occurred sooner but family background limited my considering it as I was discouraged from developing either a sense of identity or any kind of sexual identity at all. Definitely an intersectional issue there!