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I-drive Disability News Updates: Teaching history of disability could reduce discrimination

Teaching children how disabled people were treated in the past could reduce disability discrimination, according to the Guardian.

History lessons don’t sufficiently cover disability issues in the past and often omit important facts such as famous historical figures who had a disability, disability blogger Sarah Ismail claims.

One example the article points to is the Holocaust, which history teachers would say “was about killing Jewish people”. However the Nazis also targeted people with disabilities and ran specific euthanasia programmes to cleanse Germany of “undesirable” disabled children.

Other examples given are the treatment of disabled slaves, how King George VI had a stammer, Prince Phillip’s mother was born deaf and how King Richard III had scoliosis (curvature of the spine). These historical facts, Ismail claims, are not often taught to children at school.

She highlights that the history of the Holocaust is taught to reduce religious discrimination and studying the slave trade promotes racial harmony. Similarly she suggests that by teaching children how disabled people were treated in history, or that historical figures were disabled, it might help to reduce disability discrimination today.

Despite the success of the Paralympics, police figures for England, Wales and Northern Ireland show there has been a rise in hate crimes against disabled people. More than 2,000 offences were recorded in 2011, up by a third on 2010.

Ismail has launched a campaign for history lessons to include more on disability links in history. To show your support for the campaign, Old is Gold, you can sign Sarah’s e-petition here.

In other news, the English Federation for Disability Sport (EFDS) will invest £1.5million into increasing participation in sports by disabled people.

I-drive is the new information portal for disabled drivers from rental car firm Adapted Vehicle Hire. For more on Adapted Vehicle Hire and the specialist vehicles and services it offers, visit the homepage.