BLOG: Meeting Disability Activists

Carlo Salvatore, Sue Elsegood and Molly Martin

To mark the 25th anniversary of Disability Discrimination Act 1995, the Student Union had a virtual meeting with two disability activists. In our first Student Union blog, Student Union representative Molly Martin shares her account of meeting the activists and what she learned from the session. 

Carlo Salvatore and Sue Elsgood were heavily involved in protesting for disability rights in the 1980s. The Student Union, as the student voice of National Star College wanted to learn, gain knowledge and understand their experiences when campaigning for disability rights.

We listened to their encounters as well as having a question and answering session during our virtual meeting. We are passionate about the cause and wanted to know how we may help. Listening to their stories, as we are now in a better time, it was shocking and I was appalled by their treatment.

The Student Union prepared for the meeting by watching a BBC News report. As well as video clips from the protests in the 1980s, the report included Sue, Carlo and other activists discussing what it was like at the time to make a difference. After watching the report, we discussed in our SU meeting some of our experiences of discrimination. Then we each came up with two questions to ask the activists and did our own research.

Watch the Student Union members interview with Carlo and Sue

What I learned from meeting Carlo and Sue

The most interesting thing I learned from our talk with Carlo and Sue, was how different it was before the Disability Discrimination Act. I was inspired by their passion for ‘what’s right’ and how badly they were treated in their daily lives.

I deeply admire how they carried on protesting to make a change because, without them, things wouldn’t be any different for us now. I enjoyed listening to their stories of different protests that they were involved in.

In my opinion, the way they were treated was truly unbelievable. They weren’t treated as individuals and were expected to live the same as everyone else without the support and adjustments they needed. That still is the case now, though not to the same level.

We owe Sue and Carlo and all the other disability activists a great debt of gratitude for taking part in such an immense change in history. However, there is more to do and things will not change unless people are made aware of our long-standing issues in life.

I want to do something to help the fight for disabled people to have equal rights. I am taking part in a project to raise awareness for disability and to show people that we have the same common goals in life.

We deserve to be treated as equals and to have a good quality of life.

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