Martin Atherton
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Perpetuating Victorian attitudes to deafness and employability in United Kingdom social policy
in Disability and the Victorians
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This chapter examines the mind-sets that frame twentieth- and early twenty-first-century United Kingdom social policy. These thought processes continue to marginalise deaf people from opportunities for meaningful employment and can be traced to their roots in the Poor Law legislation for England and Wales of 1834. The concept of ‘deserving and undeserving poor’ that underpinned the Poor Law placed deaf people in a legally ambivalent situation that has never adequately been resolved, and so they came to be regarded as ‘deserving’ almost by default because of their inability to hear. Although this legislation was finally abolished upon the creation of a welfare state in 1948, its ethos continues to practically exclude deaf and disabled people from the workplace by emphasising what it is assumed an individual cannot do, rather than on what (s)he can do.

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Disability and the Victorians

Attitudes, interventions, legacies


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