Made Possible

By Saba Salman

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Essays on success, by high-achieving people with learning disabilities.

Publication date: May 2020
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About the book

Have you ever heard a person with a learning disability talk about their talent, or share the secret of their success?

No. That’s why Made Possible needs to be published.

There are 1.5m people with learning disabilities in the UK today but our society – media, politicians and the public – barely gives them lip service. If ever learning disabled people do get a mention, they are usually talked about as scroungers who are a burden on the state, or superhumans who have triumphed over adversity.

People with learning disabilities are pitied or patronsised, but rarely heard from in their own words.

This new book challenges the current narratives.

It presents the authentic experiences of a range of professionals who have a learning disability. Their achievements are astounding – regardless of the fact they happen to have a disability. What’s unique about this book is that, for the first time, these high achievers tell their own personal stories of success, in their own words.

This book’s diverse range of contributors have won national accolades in competitive fields such as film, theatre, television, music, fine art, campaigning and politics. How have they achieved this? Raw talent? Determination? Money? Luck? Family help?

As a social affairs journalist, most of my work over the last 20 years has been influenced by the fact that I have a learning disabled sister. I know that her learning disability does not define her, but society inflexibly labels her in terms of her condition, instead of recognising her personality, skills and abilities.

Attitudes must change – and that’s why we need this book. It shatters the lazy stereotypes of people with learning disabilities. And nothing like it exists. Other non-fiction books on learning disability are either medical or academic.

Austerity and welfare reform are hitting learning disabled people hard – this book demands that people’s independence and talents are upheld, instead of undermined by cuts in support. It also rides a new wave in the learning disability movement, the burgeoning empowerment agenda. It explores the growing grassroots activism and self-advocacy to reveal the untapped – and so far unacknowledged – potential of learning disabled people.

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