Sonali Shah

in Childhood Studies

ISBN: 9780199791231
Published online March 2012 | | DOI:


Traditionally, disability was considered to be a personal trouble, as opposed to the social issue and public policy concern that it is today. Children with physical and cognitive impairments were shunned away from mainstream society into asylums or workhouses. They were typically discussed and analyzed through a medical lens, pathologized and conceived as a social problem to be regulated, cured, or killed. The emergence of ideologies constructing disabled children and adults as dependent victims unable to contribute to the development of society encouraged the development of charities for disabled people and exploitation of textual and nontextual narratives of the “vulnerable disabled child” to evoke sympathy and induce the public’s financial generosity. The ideological mantra that impairment was the cause of individual and family disadvantage was embedded in the cultural consciousness of society and thus influenced how disabled people (across the lifecourse) “made themselves known” and were made known to others (i.e., as inferior, developmentally delayed, financial and emotional burdens to their family and society). It led to the expansion of the rehabilitation industry and new social policies that focused on altering or incarcerating the impaired body. However this was challenged by the upsurge of the British Disabled People’s Movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Based on the ideas of the Union of Physically Impaired against Segregation, the movement campaigned for social equality and human rights legislation in all spheres of social life and generated a new understanding of disability. With the historic shift in thinking about both childhood and disability as a public issue rather than a personal matter, there has been increasing interest in the social world of both disabled people and all children and young people. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (particularly Article 12) and the Children Act 1989 initiated subsequent developments with regard to children having a right to be involved in decisions about their lives. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities means that disabled children today are the first generation to grow up in an era of full international civil rights. This bibliography lists works that include the voices and experiences of disabled children and young people in research about their everyday lives, including health and medical treatment, education, and identity. These works demonstrate the richness and diversity of disabled children’s individual lives, thus challenging the traditional conception that disabled children are a homogenous group.

Article.  6775 words. 

Subjects: Development Studies

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