People with disability make important contributions to our society. Many may not be aware that Albert Einstein was suspected to be autistic, George Washington was a person with dyslexia and Franklin Roosevelt a person with polio. Greta Thunberg, an autistic teenager, is arguably the most influential environmental activist of our time. For Greta, her autism “is a superpower”. Amazing contributions also come from people with intellectual disability including people with profound and multiple intellectual disability; Derek Paravicini has composed a piano concerto and played with the Royal Philharmonic Pops Orchestra, Stephen Wilshire was awarded Member of the Order of the British Empire for his services to art. It is too often unrecognised the subtle contributions that people with intellectual disability make to everyday lives of others, the love they bring to relationships with family and friends, unique perspectives, shared effort and purpose in community activities. People with intellectual disability build bonds, bridges and linkages leading to social capital and enriching society.
With initial funding from the Endeavour Foundation Disability Research Fund 2021 Research Award, we aim to achieve preliminary conceptualisation and development of contribution outcome measures. This project shifts the welfare and deficit-focused narrative towards a paradigm of valuing and enabling the contribution of people with disability. The Contribution photovoice gallery is the first phase of our study. Photovoice methodology allows us to capture the voice of people with intellectual disability to guide this conceptualisation of contribution.
To create the Contribution gallery, 11 volunteer artists with intellectual disability gave their time and expertise to create visual contribution stories. We hope the gallery gives you a moment to reflect on contribution in your life and the lives of others. You can contribute to our research by completing the online survey below, follow the QR code. Sign up to follow our research.