Saturday, February 17, 2007


Last year I posted about the Mencap SNAP photography competition. Since then as part of my old job I have been working with a group of people to organise activities to raise awareness and promote the equal rights of people with learning disabilities in Stoke-on-Trent.

We have arranged to borrow the exhibition of the 2006 SNAP winners photographs. They are currently on show at Keele University. On Monday I will go and collect them and take them to 3 venues in the city - Burslem School of Art, Staffordshire University and The Observatory clubhouse. They will be there until mid April.

The press release is accompanied by a feedback form, designed by other group members, to encourage viewers to think about the impact of the images. I can tell you what I think of them.....

The photos place people with learning disabilities in the public eye - as people with value and dignity.

I have some reservations about some of the photos - well not so much the photos as the words that go with some of them. It is obvious that some of the words although written as though they are the words of the person with a learning disability, are actually the words of a carer/ supporter. I find this very patronising and disempowering. I wonder if someone does not speak, it is not better to have no words with the photo?

There is also a wider point about the photographs - if I cannot take my own photo and cannot tell you what I want a photograph taking of, or do not like my photo begin taken, then I cannot not take part in the competition. Not everyone can/ wants to take photos. I don’t think it is "equality" to pretend that everyone can do that - we are all different. I wonder if there is a debate here?

I am going to link the exhibition in with diversity month at Staffs Uni and set up a discussion event sometime in the next few weeks, to pick up some of these issues.

1 comment:

birdychirp said...

Well no debate from me but a big 'hell yeah!' of agreement re your comments about words being provided unhelpfully by others. I haven't seen the pictures but I would have thought that for those who can't/don't speak that the beauty of the photo is that IS their communication.

Equality is certainly NOT pretending we can all take or direct photos. I'll have a think for any relevent references.