New Directions in Disability: A Report on the Progress of the ‘Deserving Poor’
During the International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981, I was living at Armidale, NSW, reading for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in English literature at the University of New England. I was thirty-two years of age and had been blind since my mid-teens, when the failure of surgical procedures to correct the disease for which I had been treated since early childhood, obliged me to undertake ‘rehabilitation’ at the Royal Blind Society of NSW in Sydney. Although still partially sighted, I was classified as being ‘medically and economically blind’, and experienced all of the socio-economic consequences which that classification entailed. I discovered that most of the assistance which I received was provided by charity, and that while my disability entitled me to such charity, it did so only on condition that I conform to a very strict regimen of behaviour which imposed on me more distressing deprivations than the disability.
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