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Conference 2005

The stories people tell - Biography and learning disability series (1)

Held on 6th July 2005 at The Open University, Milton Keynes
The stories people tell was the first conference in our 'Biography and learning disability' series

(Please note: there are no audios available for this conference)

Morning session


  • Being a biographer: tracing my family
    Liz Verburgh
    Liz Verburgh's family research took her on a journey of discovery. From the Blue Riband of the Atlantic to Dutch artistry; from Peruvian coin-making to Arctic Russia, Liz was amazed to discover what her family had achieved before her.
    Read the full abstract
  • Being parents and professionals: an autobiographical account
    Sue Dumbleton
    In the mid nineteen eighties we were in our thirties, had two young sons and were both working with people with learning disabilities. We decided that we would like to adopt a child, and were interested in adopting a child with a disability.
    Read the full abstract
  • The king with learning difficulties: Charles II of Spain (1665-1700)
    Paul Williams
    In the 20th century, the British Royal Family hid away some of its members who had disabilities. In contrast, in the 17th century Charles II of Spain was helped to rule that country for 35 years despite quite a severe degree of learning difficulty.
    Read the full abstract
  • Significant sisters - the 'Miss Whites of Bath': a tale of four sisters
    David Stewart, Michael Hibbert and Michelle Cafferkey
    In books which tell the history of the development of special education in the UK , there is usually reference to the 'Miss Whites of Bath' who established a school in 1846.
    Read the full abstract
  • My family
    Catherine Evans
    I love my family, especially Mum. I hated London where I was bullied and made fun of at school. When I moved to Sidcup with my parents I had good support eventually.
    Read the full abstract

​During the lunch period, a video by David Knight was shown

Afternoon session

  • Visually impaired people with learning difficulties: their education from the early 20th century
    Sally French
    As part of a book I am currently writing on the history of education for visually impaired children in Britain, I have uncovered material pertaining to visually impaired people with learning difficulties (the 'defective blind' as they were called) and their education.
    Read the full abstract
  • "Listen to Us!" Citizen education for young people with special educational needs
    Sarah Bustard, Amanda Platt and Leigh Meakin
    Citizenship became a mandatory part of the curriculum for schools in England and Wales in 2002. The aim of this project was to explore the issues around citizenship for young people with special educational needs and produce a resource to help school staff to address these issues in Nottingham schools.
    Read the full abstract
  • "Were you scared when you went into the hospital?" The Schools Project 2003–04
    Mabel Cooper and Jane Abraham
    "Were you scared when you went into the hospital?", "What toys did you have?", "Did you have a boyfriend?", "Did you make friends and do you still see your friends?" These were the types of questions put to Mabel when she visited 12 classes of 10-12 years olds in SE London and Kent.
    Read the full abstract
  • Being in the right place at the right time
    Heather Cadbury
    A story of the creative tension experienced by an individual who spent most of her life in an institution, often being passed around the experts - 'not my problem'. Yet when she was able to participate in the arts she excelled and worked with a single minded passion.
    Read the full abstract

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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