Over two days this spring, I had the new experience of interviewing George Ayres and Mark Williams for the History of Place Oral History Project, which will be used to contribute memories relating to deaf and disabled people in Bristol to M Shed’s archives.
I interviewed George at M Shed. He discussed his personal experience of autism and his part in campaigns that support disabled people in Bristol. I found it inspiring hearing about George’s contribution to the community and helping others.
The other interview was conducted at Mark’s home. Mark was kind and positive, and his sense of humour helped a lot to make everyone comfortable. We got to know more about how situation for disabled people changed over time in Bristol. Sadly the changes have not always been progressive – there have been backward changes, according to Mark. Difficulties with funding were often emphasised during the interview, echoing comments made by George (who also spoke about difficulties around employment). Moreover, people’s general attitude towards disabled people was a barrier for both interviewees.
Bristol has in fact been trying to make a difference around disability issues for quite a long time, which seems relatively new in other places, such as China, where I come from.
The interviews provided information about how disabled people in Bristol were influenced by the media and prevailing social attitudes, but at the same time were fighting for their rights with a strong mind. I found out that Bristol has been attempting to make a difference around disability issues for quite a long time, and shows forward thinking concerning challenging people’s perception towards it. This seems relatively new in other places, such as China, where I come from. In the future I wish to bring this positive attitude wherever I go, telling the stories of Mark and George, who choose to live independently and bravely; challenging the attitudes of the Bristol community with their campaigns and research.