We wanted to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of disabled people and felt that there was a need to have a specific time in the year when the history of our struggle for equality and liberation could be focused on.
At very short notice, a series of events were held throughout England, but not in Scotland, so in 2011 a small group of disabled people formed Disability History Month Scotland (DHMS) with the endorsement and support of the UK Disability History Month steering group. Eleven community organisations also supported us.
The theme for DHMS 2011 was ‘Celebrating Our Struggle for Equality’ in order to reflect on our history as disabled people in Scotland and our campaign for civil rights. This theme was also relevant to more current events such as the ‘Hardest Hit’ demonstrations in May and October 2011 and the recent attacks on the rights, dignity and standards of living of disabled people throughout the UK.
We put together two events, an official launch and a national conference which were both very successful. We are determined to build on this and make DHMS an annual fixture that is recognised throughout Scotland.
We held an open meeting in February 2012 where the decision was taken to establish Disability History Scotland which incorporates Disability History Month Scotland, with our aim being to make sure that the history of disabled people in Scotland is not forgotten and that the lessons of the past are learned.
Disability History Scotland now has a formal constitution, an Advisory Board and a team of committed volunteers and is alread hard at work, planning DHMS 2012 and a number of other events which will run throughout the coming year.