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Activity 18 - Barriers then and now


To understand the barriers that disable people.

Curriculum area(s)/K Stage

  • All ages KS3-5 and adults
    • Tutor time
    • PHSE

Suitable for adults with learning disabilities?


Learning outcome(s)

To understand the barriers that Mabel faced in institutional life compared with Paul and Cian in the present.

Time required

40 minutes


  • Watch the video below where Paul Christian and Cian Binchy, two young men with learning disabilities, reflect on the film No Longer Shut Up and compare it with their lives today


  • A5 2x coloured card and pens


  1. Having watched No Longer Shut Up and seen Paul's and Cian's views above, students should try to explain the concept of barriers that disabled people face. These are the attitudes, environments and organisation in society that diminish the lives of disabled people.
  2. In groups, get the class to make a list of barriers then and now for people with learning disabilities.

Ideas for follow up

  1. With a series of A5 cards, build a wall of barriers that disabled young people in your school or college may face. Think of people with learning disabilities, those with physical impairments, sensory impairments and people who may have mental health or emotional needs. Think of attitudes, the building and surroundings and the way things and learning are organised.
  2. As a further follow up, pick five differing barriers and, on a different colour, write the solution to the barrier card to improve things for disabled people at the school or college.

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Contact us

About the Group

If you woud like to get in touch with the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group, please contact:

Liz Tilley 
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
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes

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