My Shape is an audio visual performance piece presenting the poetry of the late, great Barbara Stewart (1956-2016). Barbara’s poetry draws on her lived experience as a proud disabled person. Articulating her very personal experiences of, the medical profession, everyday discrimination, difference and empowerment, Barbara’s work is at the same time shockingly honest, funny and positive. Barbara worked as a welfare benefits advisor and supported thousands of disabled people to access the support they needed. As a poet she often would speak and read her poetry at community events to which she received a great response from people. My Shape is a poetry book Barbara finished shortly before she died and available as a PDF ebook here – My-Shape-Book-single-pages.
Bodeelanwigch explores the representation of dyslexia and related learning difficulties that challenge language and literacy norms. Presented as an audio visual poem, the original text written by the disability activist and artist Simon Brisenden (published in ‘Poems for Perfect People’ in 1987) this piece reconsiders the themes in relation to notions of dyslexia and associated learning difficulties. Drawing on personal experience, Bodeelanwigch alludes to Craig Collinson’s (2012) concept of ‘lexism’, which relocates the problem of dyslexia as not individually owned, but rather the consequence of expressing diverse reading, writing, speaking and hearing in relation to ‘literacy norms’. Continue reading “Bodeelanwigch”→
I managed to capture my lovely late great friend Barbara Stewart (1956-2016) saying ‘…so I do the hand thing…’ on an audio recording during an interview I carried out for my PhD research. There were several people present at this focus group type interview, including Barbara. The purpose of the research was to explore representation and identity issues about disability, from people with direct lived experience of it. An abridged version of my PhD was published as a chapter in an academic text in 2009, titled ‘Disabilities: Insights From Across Fields and Around the World’. The transcript of the extract read as follows; Continue reading “‘…so I do the hand thing…’”→
This animated clip was inspired by a family collection of censored postcards from World War I sent from the trenches by my Great Great Uncle John Edward Kirby, also known as Jack to his brother, between 1915 to 1918. Drawing on the words Jack wrote whilst in the trenches, this clip presents a summary version of the postcards. The full collection of the postcards is available here. Previously shown at the Together, disability film festival 2014 see here.
‘Being disabled is fun’ explores language use and truth construction, and how disabled people are powerful actors in the reworking of everyday realities. Drawing on the words of Steven Cole (1963 – 2016), a learning disability day service survivor, this piece uses speech synthesis to present a series of alternative ‘world’ truths. Continue reading “‘Being Disabled is Fun’”→
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner, Published by Hot Key Books 2012
‘There are train-track thinkers and then there’s you… a breeze in the park of imagination’
Maggot Moon is a great read with a lovely visual storyline. It’s both imaginative and inspirational, and gives space for the reader to really absorb what’s going on and add in extra detail as and when you see fitting to do.
Despite the oppressively dark and sinister backdrop, the central character ‘Standish’ beams a very bright light from every page. It is a tale of proud resistance set in a fascist state where, in the end, the power of what’s right rings true.
First published In June 2013, in the Write4Children journal, this paper considers e-book accessibility and literacy norms in relation to dyslexia. Beginning with a personal account of e-book accessibility, the technical and corporate challenges of accessible publishing are briefly reflected upon. The production of ‘dyslexia’ is then explored in terms of Craig Collinson’s (2012) ‘lexism’, which relocates the problem of dyslexia as not individually owned, but rather the consequence of expressing diverse reading, writing, speaking and hearing in relation to ‘literacy norms’. This considers how dyslexics defy language conventions and thus are able to facilitate alternative knowledge interpretations of the world. In this way it is suggested that while accessible e-books have the potential to liberate readers in progressive ways, this can only be achieved if every-day and institutional language producers resist the literacy norms through which we are socially ordered to perform speech acts in particular ways. Sally Gardner’s recent book, Maggot Moon, is then considered for the way in which it promotes a positive representation of dyslexia and the leadership the book shows by way of it’s multi format and accessible publishing style. Continue reading “Dyslexic Discourse; E-book accessibility and the resistance of literacy norms on Maggot Moon.”→
Audio visual summary of Chris Edwards report ‘The Austerity War and the impoverishment of disabled people’. This finds the burden of the cuts to public services is being unfairly shouldered by some of the poorest people in society. Commissioned by Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People (NCODP) the report says the poorest 20% of the 2.7 million households receiving disability benefits will lose 16% of their cash income, plus benefits-in-kind, during the four years up to 2015. Words by Chris Edwards, Visuals by Stephen Lee Hodgkins – Nov 2012. Created with a 1950s shopkeepers ticket printing kit and an Ipad. Shown at the Shape Open 2012 Exhibition see here.
This chapter published in 2012 considers the discourses of Disabled Peoples’ Organisations (DPOs). Drawing on the work of Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu we explore the rise of the disabled people’s movement in recent history, the development of DPOs and their gradual colonisation, moving from a radical political and social movement to pseudo government agents. Using notions of power and resistance from Foucault, and capital, field and habitus from Bourdieu, opportunities and challenges for DPOs are explored. These are critically considered in terms of the implications for the project of impairment management, inclusion, and the preservation of the cultures of disabled bodies, minds and identities.
Full Reference Blackmore, T., & Hodgkins, S.L. Discourses of Disabled Peoples Organisations: Foucault, Bourdieu and Future Perspectives. In: ‘Disability and Social Theory: New developments and directions‘ Editors: Dan Goodley, Bill Hughes and Lennard Davis. Palgrave (London) – 2012. Click here for authors copy.