In this opening address, I propose to review the role life stories and life histories have played in the 21 year history of the Social History of Learning Disability Research Group, with the help of the World Premiere of the late Mabel Cooper’s film. Mabel was a key member of the Group since 1995, and her life story, published in 1997, has been an inspiration to many.
I will end the presentation with questions about the role life stories can play now, when policies of inclusion mean that most people with learning difficulties live alongside everyone else, and when specialist settings are disappearing. Do life stories still have the same significance?
Jan Walmsley was a founder of the Social History of Learning Disability Group with Dorothy Atkinson in 1994. They began it because at the time the history of learning disability was little known or researched. It was timely, as it had been able to chart the shift from insititional to community care to social care and, now, personalisation using life stories to chart the impact of these changes on people's lives.
She now has the title of Visiting Chair, History of Learning Disabilities at The Open University and continues to undertake projects related to the history of learning disabilities.
If you woud like to get in touch with the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group, please contact:
Chair of the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group
School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies
The Open University
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