I'm sitting here listening to Neil Young's 'Weld' ruminating upon my forthcoming training course next week. I do a bit of Positive Action training for disabled people from time to time. I really enjoy it. To see the change in people over the period of the course is a real boost and from experience the delegates get a hell of a lot out of it.
We tackle the whole social model/medical model thing which can be really a struggle to get across at times. It's not an easy concept for everyone, mainly because the disabled people who we get through the door only ever see a negative image of disability. They've never thought about how society and the environment disables them. When it clicks it's wonderful to behold. There's nothing like a room full of brand new uppity crips to warm the heart.
Then it's on to the big stuff. Disability Culture. Now over the years this been a revelation to many people, myself included when I went through the course some 10 years ago. If we can get across the concept of a disability culture then we're nearly there.
So what is it? Well my rather ancient copy of the Pocket Oxford Dictionary (Fifth Edition) defines it thus; "trained and refined state of the understanding and manners and tastes..." What the fuck does that mean? Well I think Mr E Macntosh was talking about a way of life. If you put it those terms then a disabled person cannot escape having a disabled culture. Everything they do is defined by being a disabled person, their mobility, the way they eat, the way they sleep, the way they interact with others and so on.
On the last course I met some real hostility to the concept of disability culture from disabled people of long standing so it's not something that everyone agrees with. I can't see how it's something you can disagree with though. If you're disabled person you have a disabled culture just as if you a black you have a black culture and if you are a Deaf you have a Deaf culture.
Still Thursday will be a new challenge. Maybe they'll come round. Disability is a journey, with many twists and turns in the road and sometimes it takes some people longer to get there.