Sound and vision blog

22 November 2011

Disability Voices

Elspeth Millar, Oral History Archive Assistant, writes:

Disability-VoicesTo celebrate Disability History Month we have launched a new content package on the Archival Sound Recordings website called 'Disability Voices'.  The interviews available under the 'Disability Voices' package are from a number of the ‘Personal health, mental health and disability’ oral history collections at the British Library and we hope to add more collections to the package in the future. 

The content package includes interviews from the ‘Speaking for Ourselves: An Oral History of People with Cerebral Palsy’ collection (British Library Sound Archive catalogue no: C1134), the ‘Unheard Voices: Interviews With Deafened People’ collection (catalogue no: C1345), ‘An Oral History of British Athletics’ (catalogue no: C790), and Geoff Webb's Memories of Polio (catalogue no: C1383)

‘Speaking for Ourselves: An Oral History of People with Cerebral Palsy’ was a two-year partnership project run in 2004 and 2005, led by UK disability charity Scope and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which trained sixteen disabled volunteer interviewers to record life story interviews. The final collection includes 36 life story interviews with people with cerebral palsy over the age of 50.

‘Unheard Voices: Interviews With Deafened People’ (catalogue no: C1345) was conducted in 2008 and 2009 by Hearing Concern LINK, now Hearing Link, a charity that provides information and support for those with hearing loss and their family members. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Sixteen volunteer interviewers from the deafened community were trained to interview other members of the community. The interviews were audio recorded and supported by a Speech to Text Reporter, who provided a live text version of the conversation on a monitor.

Paralympians Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Danny Crates were interviewed for the project ‘An Oral History of British Athletics’ (catalogue no: C790), a rolling programme of life story interviews with British athletes which started in 1996.

Geoff Webb's self-recorded reflections were intended to be the basis for an autobiography. As a result of polio Geoff Webb was paralysed and on a positive pressure respirator and this dictated the manner in which he spoke his testimony. He was sometime editor of 'The Responaut', a magazine for the community of people in this position. This recording was made shortly before his death from cancer. As an audio autobiography it contrasts with other elements in the Disability Voices package.


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