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Conference 2016

Exploring Learning Disability: Why history?

Held on 7th and 8th July 2016 at The Open University, Milton Keynes

Day one - 7th July 2016 - chaired by Liz Tilley and Craig Hart

Please note: all presentation audios (where available) are now located on the associated presentation abstract page.

Morning session


Day 1 Introduction

Keynote speech - Hidden Now Heard
Paul Hunt, Sara Pickard and Laura Harris (Mencap Cymru's 'Hidden Now Heard' team)

The Hidden Now Heard project is collecting the oral histories of people with a learning disability and staff from six former long-stay hospitals across Wales.

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What the Dickens!

David S Stewart

Georgina, Andrew, George William, Peter, Mimina and Eustratius, born between 1838 and 1854, were six children and young people with learning disabilities, living in Victorian England.

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Afternoon session

Workshop Sessions

Learning from the thinkers and practitioners of the past

Ian Jones-Healey
Why should we care about history? What can it teach us?
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The trials, tribulations and rewards of being an 'NHS History Worker'

David O'Driscoll
In this presentation, I want to discuss my experiences of being a ‘NHS History Project Worker’ in Hertfordshire, a unique position.
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Some words from Jonti Rix, son of Brian (Lord) Rix

Some words from Jonti Rix

Day two - 8th July 2016 - chaired by Ian Davies and Vicky Green

Morning session

Keynote speech - The history of the history of learning disability

Simon Jarrett
In 1904 Dr Martin Barr, president of the American Association for the Study of Feeblemindedness, published a book called Mental defectives: their history, treatment and training.
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Kathi Lampert within Austrian Remembering: the impact of the Nazi regime on learning disability history and Austrian culture

Gerhart Hofer
Gerhart Hofer from Austria will talk about the dark period of the Nazi regime in Germany and Austria about 75 years ago.
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Institutions: a thing of the past?

Nigel Ingham and Duncan Mitchell
Why is it still important to study the history of long-stay institutions for people with learning disabilities? Does it matter?
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The history of institutions in Hungary: what can we learn from it for the future?

Agnes Turnpenny, Gábor Petri and Julie Beadle-Brown
Hungary is a country in Central Europe. It is a relatively poor country with high levels of social inequality. There are more than 15,000 people with a learning disability who live in large institutions in Hungary.
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Afternoon session

Recent history and the development of neoliberalism and learning disability services: looking back to a better future

Theophilus M Tambi
The distribution of social justice, including services for people experiencing learning disabilities, is influenced by political and economic ideas and ways of thinking.
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The history of sexuality of people with learning difficulties: exploring the current views and experiences of women with learning difficulties

Chido Ndadzungira
Experiences of women with learning difficulties have changed compared to the time of institutionalisation.
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Why history? "I want to be included forever"

Karrie Marshall
This quote is by Mark who wants to be in the local community. He feels valued and respected by his peers and support staff, but Mark yearns to feel part of a wider society in a meaningful and enduring way.
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Summing up discussion

Summing up

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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