It is National Disability History Month in the UK and here in WEA Yorkshire and Humber Region we wanted to celebrate the lives of disabled people now and in the past, challenge disabilism by exploring oppression over time and now and strive to achieve equality for disabled people. We are offering a range of courses, details of which are below.

The WEA is committed to fighting inequality and promoting social justice. We work with a variety of voluntary and community organisations, unions and NHS Health and Social Care teams across Yorkshire and Humber to provide opportunities for inclusive learning where our students’ lived experience informs and enriches education for everyone. A recent project, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, enabled disabled and non-disabled people to come together to explore the history and heritage of the Sheffield Fabrics Company, which was set up after the First World War to provide occupations for disabled servicemen.

The insight and commitment of participants in researching the lives of these men illuminated attitudes towards disability both then and now, resulting in a transformational project. You can read more about it here.

National Disability History Month runs until 18 December.

Please check back to find out more about our work – and go to https://ukdhm.org/ for further information and signposting to other activities across the UK.


Emily's story

Emily was a recent participant on our British Sign Language (BSL) basics course:

"I have a hearing disorder and have struggled tremendously communicating with my parents especially through lockdown due to using face masks. My mum and dad have basic level of signing and therefore I thought this would be beneficial for me to learn."

"I feel more confident in myself and feel as though I have achieved something and this has made a difference to how I can communicate with my family."

"I am hoping as I am working with a disability influencer and advocate and I am hoping if I continue to learn BSL I may be able to aspire to support them at Interpreter level as we want to make everything as inclusive as possible.  I would like to one day include my sign language in my film making to make inclusive films."


Cilla's story

Cilla first came across the WEA in 1994 when she volunteered at a adult basic education centre by teaching literacy and computing. In December 2019 she was looking for a sign language course to develop her BSL to better sign with her deaf grandchild.  

"I had no success in finding a local class and then came across this one through WEA online. Since then I have been learning British Sign Language with the WEA for over 2 years on unaccredited online sign support courses where I have acquired both productive and receptive skills and additionally gained insight and a broader understanding of deaf culture."

"I feel proud and happy that I can have signed conversations with my granddaughter. She is proud and happy that I made the effort. She told me it’s makes her feel valued and it’s shows that I “understand that her language is a beautiful language and worth learning”".

"Being part of the BSL Support Group course has developed my vocabulary and grammar and additionally embedded a deeper understanding of deaf culture and the importance of deaf awareness and inclusivity for deaf people in the wider community."