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Body Politic

It's only relatively recently that disabled people began to be seen as a part of, not apart from, the communities where they live and work. This collection shows the slow shift in attitudes, as a more enlightened philosophy of 'care in the community' began gradually to replace the life sentence of being consigned to an institution.

But the unspoken message is still all too often one of gratitude, paternalism and pity.  It wasn't until the 1980s that the areas of civic life that most Britons usually take for granted - housing, employment, leisure, travel - became a battleground for the independent living movement, with assertive and articulate disabled activists in the vanguard.

Graham Findlay (disability equality consultant)

Please note: titles in this collection may contain language or other content that reflect views prevalent in their time but that may cause offence today. They are included here for historical reasons and are in no way endorsed by the BFI or its partners.

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An Ordinary Life
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An Ordinary Life

198529 mins

“I’d much rather work at a computer than make wicker baskets” – disabled people hit the mainstream in 1980s Britain

Eyes of a Child
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Eyes of a Child

School programme and Educational film196131 mins Location: Dorton Ho (Sch)

Young imaginations run wild at School for Blind Children.

It's a New World
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It's a New World

Instructional film/TV programme197730 mins

Early attempts at inclusive swimming for disabled people.

Three for Society
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Three for Society

196929 mins

Feisty and free-spirited, three disabled people talk frankly and directly about the barriers they experience in the 1960s

Like Other People
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Like Other People

Documentary197251 mins

Man Alive! moral panic, sex, and when professionals ruled – life as a disabled couple in 1972

Artificial Limb Making
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Artificial Limb Making

Non-Fiction19161 minsSilent

Occupational therapy turns full circle, as amputee soldiers learn to make artificial limbs for others

The Contact
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The Contact

196312 mins

Spot the film and soap stars of the future as John Hurt plays a disabled teenager befriended by some biker boys.

About Women - Disabled Living Foundation
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About Women - Disabled Living Foundation

Magazine and Review show19737 mins Location: Kensington

Take a look at the creative inventions offered at the Disabled Living Foundation, that provide much needed solutions for independent living.

Adult Training Centre
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Adult Training Centre

News19744 mins Location: Solihull

The Solihull centre that offered training for an eager workforce traditionally rejected by the world of work.

Back to Normal
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Back to Normal

Government sponsored film194414 mins Location: Roehampton

Excellent portrait of post-war rehabilitation services for those who lost limbs in the war, imbued with that Blitz spirit

Chairbound
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Chairbound

196410 mins Location: Stoke Mandeville Hospl

Do wheelchairs liberate or constrain? The early years of Stoke Mandeville hospital and the Paralympics.

Theatre of the Deaf
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Theatre of the Deaf

197213 mins

Yeah, baby! There's a touch of the Austin Powers as deaf people get groovy at an experimental drama and dance group.

Blind Oarsmen
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Blind Oarsmen

Non-Fiction19151 minsSilent Location: Putney

Putney plays host to rowing races between soldiers who lost their sight during the war and blind students from Worcester College.

Annual Paraplegic Games at Stoke Mandeville
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Annual Paraplegic Games at Stoke Mandeville

News19758 mins Location: Stoke Mandeville

Founder of the Paralympics, Sir Ludwig Guttman at the International Stoke Mandeville Games in Buckinghamshire in 1975. Anglia TV reports.

About Women - Club 52
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About Women - Club 52

Magazine and Review show19738 mins Location: Norwich

Anglia TV report on 'Club 52', a social enterprise founded by Norwich resident Jean Jurak, that offers the housebound a new lease of life.

Royal School for the Deaf, Derby: Sports Day and Outings 1936
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Royal School for the Deaf, Derby: Sports Day and Outings 1936

Amateur film193610 minsSilent Location: Skegness

From donkey rides to sports day: a year in the life of the hearing impaired of Derby.

Calderdale Talking Newspaper
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Calderdale Talking Newspaper

Documentary19816 mins Location: Halifax

Dedicated volunteers from Halifax provide a talking newspaper service for locals on cassettes, strangely not motivated by money.

About Women - Toy Library for handicapped children
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About Women - Toy Library for handicapped children

Magazine and Review show19748 mins Location: Norwich

Anglia TV visit the Norfolk & Norwich Toy Library where the mums can get-together while the children enjoy much needed time to play.

Inskip Adventure
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Inskip Adventure

Amateur film195328 minsSilent Location: Heywood

The Inskip League of Friendship tackles social isolation for people with physical disabilities.

Concern Over Safety of Three Wheeled Disability Cars
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Concern Over Safety of Three Wheeled Disability Cars

News19755 mins Location: Ashwellthorpe

Judy Finnigan reports on the safety of the Invacar, chatting to disability campaigner Douglas Campbell at Ashwellthorpe Hall in Norfolk.

Day in the Life of the School
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Day in the Life of the School

Short documentary197025 mins Location: Walton-on-Thames

A typical day at Burwood Park, a boarding school for deaf children, features in this film made by two of its pupils, Alan Loft and Michael Chawner

Braille Lesson
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Braille Lesson

News19621 minsSilent Location: Torquay

Police Constable learns to read differently.

Desire to Work
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Desire to Work

Promotional198118 mins

Including disabled people in the workforce through gadgets and aides

Housing for the Disabled
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Housing for the Disabled

Documentary198226 mins Location: Peckham

A training film, made in Cumbria, Gwent and Peckham Rye, revealing government thinking in the early 1980s

Downham School Opening
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Downham School Opening

News19631 minsSilent Location: Plymouth

Downham School opens its doors to deliver a very special education.

Fancy Dress Pageant
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Fancy Dress Pageant

News19761 minsSilent Location: Exeter

Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education's perform in a fancy dress pageant.

First disabled racing driver
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First disabled racing driver

News19805 mins Location: Silverstone

At Silverstone, the home of British Motor Sports, disabled driver Martin Sharpe warms up 'Big Sam', a Datsun 240Z, ready for a big race.

Hereward College
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Hereward College

News19728 mins Location: Tile Hill

The opening of Hereward College in 1971 represented a major advance in access to education for young disabled people.

Disabled Horse Riding
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Disabled Horse Riding

News19685 mins Location: Stoneleigh

A group of children with disabilities enjoy a day in the saddle.

A Centre is Made
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A Centre is Made

Amateur film195633 mins Location: Oldham

Disabled people working in the community in Oldham.

The Silence of the Sound
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The Silence of the Sound

News19835 mins Location: Plymouth

Signed instruction opens up a world of activities for deaf children at Drake's Island Adventure Centre in Plymouth Sound.

New Ways at Northgate
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New Ways at Northgate

Documentary196935 mins

From the socially dead to community care – a case study in re-humanising disabled people

Not Just a Spectator
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Not Just a Spectator

Documentary197435 mins

Before we were the Superhumans: a genteel look at disabled people at sport and leisure in the 1970s

Off to Work They Go
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Off to Work They Go

Short documentary197313 mins

See how Janet and Tony cope with the challenge of communicating with their hearing colleagues as the young adults enter the world of work

On the Level
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On the Level

Documentary198512 mins

How accessible was 1980s Britain? Find out here.

A Place in Scouting
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A Place in Scouting

Promotional196629 mins Location: Potters Bar

One of the Troop - awkward attempts at including disabled young people in Scouting in the Sixties

Probe - Alf Morris announces the recalling of the Invacar
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Probe - Alf Morris announces the recalling of the Invacar

News197612 mins Location: Northampton

Alf Morris, Minister for the Disabled explains why use of the Invacar is to be phased out, to the dismay of some disabled drivers.

Invalid Carriage
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Invalid Carriage

News19766 mins

The 'invalid carriage': a vital mobility aid or a death trap on three wheels?

Invalid Carriage Protest
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Invalid Carriage Protest

News19772 mins Location: Solihull

Disabled motorists take on the Government and corner a Minister in the process.

Return to Action
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Return to Action

Documentary194719 mins Location: Egham

Bricklayers, lawyers, teachers – disabled men and women are encouraged to retrain for new jobs

Prince Charles Meets Disabled Drivers
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Prince Charles Meets Disabled Drivers

News19813 mins Location: Silverstone

Silverstone Circuit, home of British Motor Sports host an event for disabled drivers, with Prince Charles taking a turn on the assault course.

Poppies of Flanders
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Poppies of Flanders

Non-Fiction19281 minsSilent Location: Richmond

A one-armed soldier is among those shown diligently manufacturing poppies on the 10th anniversary of Armistice Day at a factory in Richmond.

So We're Different but ...
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So We're Different but ...

Documentary197631 mins Location: Coventry

Teachers and pupils of 3 schools in Trafford, Stevenage and Coventry make the case for the acceptance of difference without discrimination.

Sir Douglas Bader launches employment scheme for disabled
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Sir Douglas Bader launches employment scheme for disabled

News19802 mins Location: Chelmsford

“Disabled workers are good workers”. Sir Douglas Bader visits a Chelmsford Job Centre to launch his new “Fit for Work” scheme for the disabled.

St Loye's College in Exeter
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St Loye's College in Exeter

News19623 mins Location: Exeter

St Loye's College shows its enabling training courses on offer.

Stoke Mandeville Sports Stadium for the Disabled
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Stoke Mandeville Sports Stadium for the Disabled

Amateur film196719 minsSilent Location: Stoke Mandeville

Rare home movie capturing sporting action in 1967 at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, birthplace of the Paralympics.

They're only Human Beings Like Everybody Else
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They're only Human Beings Like Everybody Else

Current affairs197028 mins

“A Magna Carta for disabled people” – the ground-breaking 1970 legislation that transformed lives.

Thorpe: Moving House
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Thorpe: Moving House

Home movie19606 minsSilent Location: Wolvey

A new home and a new beginning - disabled filmmaker John Thorpe records his own house move.

Training Centre for the Disabled in St Austell
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Training Centre for the Disabled in St Austell

News19631 minsSilent Location: St Austell

Visitors look around a new training centre for the disabled in St Austell.

Trigger Films on Mental Health
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Trigger Films on Mental Health

Documentary197717 mins

Watch out for the early use of fishing as Mindfulness in this slow-paced reflection on mental health.

A Trip to Windermere
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A Trip to Windermere

Amateur film19754 minsSilent Location: Windermere

A pleasure boat trip for a group from the Merseyside Society for Deaf People.

Wheelchair Access
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Wheelchair Access

Magazine and Review show19817 mins Location: Selly Oak

From Selly Oak to Birmingham's Head Post Office in a wheelchair - how hard could it be?

With Your Assistance
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With Your Assistance

Amateur film195521 minsSilent Location: Fulham

Broken clocks, basket-weaving and compulsory cheeriness – a glimpse into how disabled servicemen were prepared for civilian life in the 1950s

Work at St. Dunstan's
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Work at St. Dunstan's

Non-Fiction19161 minsSilent Location: Regent's Park

Activities at St. Dunstan’s hostel for blind soldiers in Regent’s Park.

Plans for Living
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Plans for Living

Amateur film196622 mins

The Pinner Cine Society looks at the work of Northwood's welfare services.