Book Review: Independent Futures: Creating User-Led Disability Services in a Disabling Society

Independent Futures: Creating User-Led Disabiltiy Services in a Disabling Society
Colin Barnes and Geof Mercer,
The Policy Press
ISBN: 1861347189, £19.99



In effect a short history of the disability rights movement in the UK, this book traces the gradual politicisation of disability issues in the second half of the 20th century, writes Simon Heng.

It looks at the concept of independent living, the redefinition of disability as social oppression – alongside the development of the social model of disability – and the increasing demands by disabled people for choice and control of disability-related services.

This is placed in the context of shifting social perspectives, and describes how the changing political landscape has hindered
or helped the independence of disabled people.

The authors draw on statistical and anecdotal evidence, as well as the results of an extensive survey of user-led organisations, to give a broad picture of the diverse activities and bodies that disabled people have created to take more control of their lives.

The book is written from  the social model perspective of disability, and makes no apologies for this; it has no need to.

This should be essential reading for decision-makers, politicians and, not least, disabled people with an interest in their own futures.

Simon Heng is chair of the Worcestershire Association of Service Users, and writes a weekly column for Community Care

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