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A Thesis Submitted for the Degree of PhD at the University of Warwick
http://go.warwick.ac.uk/wrap/3937

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DISABLED PEOPLE AND EMPLOYMENT:
RECOVERING HISTORIES
AND CONTEMPORARY PRACTICES
PETER WHEELER BA (HONS)

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK
WARWICK BUSINESS SCHOOL


OCTOBER 2004

TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
DECLARATION
ABSTRACT
ABBREVIATIONS

INTRODUCTION 1

The place of experiential knowledge in disability research 12

Sources of data 18

Thesis outline 18

The social model organisation 21

New deal for disabled people 22


CHAPTER 1: Understanding Disability and Approaches to Equality 26

Models of disability 27

The quantification of disability: reinforcing a medical model 34

The first OPCS survey 35

The second OPCS survey 38

ICIDH-2 42

Equality for minority groups in organisations 45
CHAPTER 2: Research Concepts and Analytical Framework 50

Antonio Gramsci 50

Ideology 55

Common sense and good sense 58

Hegemony 62

Intellectuals 65

Assimilation and integration 68

Differentiating organisational ideologies 74


CHAPTER 3: Research Methodology 80

Methodological approach 80

Accessing and using documentary data 85

Ethnographic research 89

Research interviews 96

Disability and research interviews 97

Researching disability 99

Emancipatory disability research 100

Accessing research organisations 108

Gaining access to NDDP and SMO 111

Generaliseability 115
CHAPTER 4: An Historical Reflection on Disability (I) 117

Claims for a historical continuity of oppression 118

The politics of disability 122 Disabled people victims of medical discourse 127

The rise of a disability movement 130

Disabled people and charities 137

Henshaw’s Blind Asylum 138

Thermega Ltd.: an ‘industrial experiment 145

Summary 150


CHAPTER 5: An Historical Reflection on Disability (II) 153

Disability post-Second World War 154

Sheltered and subsidised workshops 160

The Disability Discrimination Act (1995) 163

Impairment 165

Substantial and long-term effect 166

Normal day-to-day activities 167

The DDA and the environment 168

Summary 170
CHAPTER 6: Assisting the Employment of Disabled People? 173

Politics and not-for-profit (NFP) organisations 174

NDDP: the provision of employment opportunities 177

SMO: the provision of employment opportunities 192

SMO: internal employment practices 207

Summary 211

Conclusion 212
CHAPTER 7: Staff Recruitment and Training 215

Recruitment practices in NDDP 216

Recruitment practices in SMO 218

Job-related training in NDDP 221

Job-related training in SMO 222

NDDP: staff disability awareness training 226

SMO: staff disability awareness training 228

Summary 232


CHAPTER 8: Overcoming Access Barriers 235

NDDP: defining and enabling access 236

SMO: defining and enabling access 240

Summary 251


CHAPTER 9: Research Summary and Conclusions 254

Is the social model of disability new? 254

Organisational comparisons 261

Implications of the research 265

Policy implications 268

Research limitations and future proposals 271



CHAPTER 10: Conducting Research and Writing a Doctoral Thesis: 273

Reflections from a Disabled Perspective

Embarking on the research: working with supervisors 273

Embarking on the research: finding a place to work 275

Accessing buildings and information: non-medical helpers 277

Accessing information: adaptive technologies 279

Writing the thesis: computer-generated speech systems 283



BIBLIOGRAPHY 290
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
There are too many people who have helped in the course of this research to list them all here, consequently when naming organisations my thanks go to the individuals who made the work possible.
Hence I would wish to acknowledge the assistance given by staff at both Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Warwick. Also, the many archivists from: the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick; the National Film Archive; the Working Class movement library; the British Library Newspaper Archive; the RNIB research library; Henshaw's Society of the Blind; John Ryland's Library, and the House of Lords archive.
Anonymity dictates I cannot acknowledge individuals in both participatory organisations, NDDP and SMO and individual disabled people who both informed and criticised as the research developed.
There are two principal non medical helpers who have assisted from before the research commenced often without receiving payment: Sue Paraszczuck and Neil Terry. Sue had the unenviable task of trying to understand the purpose of the research to work as a sighted helper in archive and library searches. Neil acted as an internet and electronic journal searcher; I know both would agree the experience has been interesting and often extremely funny.
Dr Lynn Robson has edited the final version raising many issues which assisted in obtaining clarity of writing and making the work conform to the visual standards required for a Ph.D.
Whether due to bad luck, bad attitudes or a direct function of working with me, during the course of the research I have had 3 second supervisors, none of whom lasted more than a matter of months. Only my director of studies Dr. Ardha Danieli has had the fortitude to stay with the research to the end. It is the support, encouragement and criticism given by Ardha that has enabled me to complete the research. My only remaining prayer is that she has destroyed all my earlier writings.

Abstract.


This thesis argues that the claim that disability is capable of reduction to two polar opposite models of disability cannot be sustained. Drawing on historical data, it is shown that for over the past century organised groups of disabled people were proactive in affecting social change without recourse to medical intervention, fighting for economic emancipation. Hence claims that the social model of disability represents a new understanding are incorrect. It is shown that the dominant traditional intellectual understandings of disability were not reducible to simplistic oppositional medical/social models, but rather a more complex combination which acknowledged both components in the construction of disability. To test this understanding, a comparison was made between two contemporary organisations who have the mission of engaging disabled people in work, and might be expected to operate to the oppositional social/medical models.
Through an ethnographic study in an organisation run and controlled by disabled people and participatory observation in a government employment initiative for disabled people, it is shown through the organic understandings held by stakeholders in both organisations that mutually exclusive models could not be seen in everyday operations, and despite one organisation working explicitly to a social model of disability, they could not escape the reality of impairment when claiming that disability was singularly the result of disabling attitudes and social structures. Hence the social model organisation could not provide any better employment opportunities than one operating to traditional intellectual understandings.
Through considering my own impairment and the traditional prescriptive methodological texts which assume a non disabled researcher, a methodological contribution is made by challenging understandings held in both positivist and interpretive approaches. It is also argued, that emancipatory disability research by disregarding any consequences of impairment, fails to make the challenges necessary to provide a more inclusive model.

ABBREVIATIONS

DDA Disability Discrimination Act

DRC Disability Rights Commission

ESWS Ex-Services Welfare Society

ICIDH International Classification of Impairments, Disability and Handicap

ISRM Institute of Sport and Recreation Management

MOL Ministry of Labour

NDDP New Deal for Disabled People

NLB National League of the Blind

OPCS Office of Population Census and Statistics

PKTBAC Printing and Kindred Trades’ Blind Aid Committee

PNP Publicly Funded Not-for-Profit Organisations

RNIB Royal National Institute for the Blind

SMO Social Model Organisation

UPIAS Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation

WHO World Health Organisation


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