Disabilities cartoons: a way for removing barriers
Dave Lupton, better known as Crippen or Sox, is a very famous disabled cartoonist in the UK.
As a matter of fact, he has been commissioned by many television companies such as the BBC, and Channel 4, but also by numerous mainstream newspapers such as the Guardian and the Yorkshire Evening Post.
Since Crippen is on a wheelchair for many years now, he is very much attached to disability and disability-related issues. Currently, in his blog one can find 26 different topics addressing different aspects of disability.
As mentioned in his webpage, Crippen's main goal is to work on disability issues and rights by identifying the barriers within the society. He addresses them by using humor and by showing the absurdity of many situations.
Here you have some examples of his cartoons:
In this short post, the Crippen wants to make non-disabled individuals realize that in certain situations they behave in a very contradictory manner. For example, in the image below Crippen portrayed a "Grand Gala Evening For the Disabled" in which he shows the non-disable people standing on a pedestal well separated from the disabled. Nevertheless, they state it is good to be close one another... Isn't this contradictory?
The main point here is that disabled people have been marginalized for years, making them "invisible". That's what Operation Invisible is for: to give voice to those who usually don't have one.
The OI initiative has also a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/906875132730084/
As previously stated, Dave Lupton's work aims to promote disabled individuals' rights.
Dave was commissioned by Toyah Wordsworth – a disabled woman active in the Disability Equality Training – to develop some cartoons for a board game she designed: 'Removing Barriers'. The game main goal was to raise awareness on the multiple barriers and challenges that individuals with disabilities have to cope with every day. In total, one can find 15 boxes on the board, and each of them covers a different topic – as, for example, the accessibility of a public structure (like a public transportation, a school or a restaurant) or having a positive attitude towards one's disability by saying: "Think Positive – we are Disabled and proud and we are capable of achieving anything!".
'Removing Barriers' is easy to play, educational and also a great deal of fun. Toyah hopes that it will be available soon to all people involved in providing disability equality training throughout the UK.
This cartoon is kind of special: despite he comes from England, Dave is not a football fan, so it was difficult for him to work on this topic. He had no idea of the real difficulties of a disabled football fan – especially those in a wheelchair.
In the images below you can see what he found out:
As you can see, the difficulties Crippen discovered for disabled football fans are numerous, as getting "dumped" behind standing photographers, being close to the opposite team's disabled fans, or even receiving the ball right on the head because you're sitting right behind the goal.
The Social Model identifies that disabled individuals are disabled by the many barriers that exist within society. These barriers prevent disabled people from participating fully in mainstream activities. These barriers are classified into four groups:
- Attitudinal: the negative beliefs and attitudes of non-disabled individuals who do not believe in disabled's abilities.
- Physical Environment: no or little accessibility to the environment.
- Institutional and Organisational: institutions and organisations are many times unwilling to be flexible regarding the provision of services and employment of disabled people.
- Information and Communication: the lack of availability of information in alternative formats, as for example in Braille format or the provision of sign language interpretation.
Below you can find the drawing Crippen made for this Topic:
The Invictus Games were launched by Prince Harry and are sort of Paralympics championship involving injured members of the armed forces. The first event took place in 2014 in London. The idea behind the Invictus Games is that sport can positively impact the lives of wounded, injured and sick soldiers.
"The competition would recognise the sacrifice made by those who fought for their country" – Prince Harry
Well, Dave does not share the view of the Prince; in fact he writes:
"Now, having already been down this road many times, disabled people will tell you that the only thing you actually achieve by encouraging competition in this way is to highlight the difference between those who can and those who can't. Yes, sport, activity and personal challenge can be positive and motivating for many of us, but turning it all into a media spectacle often puts negative pressure on those who "Can't". They end up being given an even bigger rod with which public opinion can beat them with.
However, in the shadows are those of us who make up the highest proportion of our disabled community, but are unable to participate in competitive sports and games. Those of us with severe impairment issues, those with hidden impairments, with mental health conditions, with HIV and Aids etc. Compared to the Paralympians, we represent the failed side of disability, the unglamorous, darker side, not photogenic or sexy or even coming close to participating in our celebrity obsessed society.The armed forces have their own dark side too. [...] How, in the words of Prince Harry, are these people going to be able to 'celebrate their fighting spirit through an inclusive sporting competition that recognises the sacrifice they have made ... by serving their nations so bravely'?"
What's your opinion about sports events like the Invictus Games and the Paralympics?
Generally, I found Dave's works very interesting, as for example I've never thought about the controversial aspect of Paralympics or similar sport competitions for disabled. I am starting now realizing how many difficulties and barriers disabled individuals must be facing.
What do you think about all these cartoons? Do you know one of the described situations or do you think that he exaggerates? I would be interested to hear about your experiences.