Vox pop | What is the biggest challenge with disability representation? - Museums Association

Vox pop | What is the biggest challenge with disability representation?

Three experts share their views
Paul Darke
Chief executive, Outside Centre – Digital Disability

“A disability pervades all spaces and times: the concern is the curation of its narrative. We have progressed beyond mere inclusion and access, and are into the complexities of power dynamics over control of its narratives. But the culture sector risks establishing an acceptable and unacceptable perspective – a potential impediment to the transformative influence that disability may bring in terms of rejuvenation and creativity. The challenge is to avoid homogenising the discourse into a sanitised narrative.”

Anis Akhtar
Community curator, Nothing About Us Without Us, People’s History Museum

“Nothing About Us Without Us was co-curated with people with lived experience of disablement, so we shared our stories, rather than being spoken about. I learned that there is a lack of disabled people’s stories and objects in museums. A more diverse workforce would make disabled people feel comfortable coming to museums. Lastly, people still talk about ‘people with disabilities’ – failing to recognise that disability is a construct created by society that didn’t make the world accessible for all.” 

Freya Purcell
Design historian

“Getting into jobs is one of the main issues. So many interview panels treat accessibility as gaming the system and otherwise progressive institutions justify being inaccessible to disabled individuals in the job descriptions. Before you can access jobs, there is expectation of unpaid labour. Managing conditions and sinking hours into unpaid volunteering can be untenable. The issue is compounded for working-class disabled individuals.” 

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