You can now explore the British Film Institute’s ‘Disabled Britain on Film’ collection for free online at: https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/collection/disabled-britain-on-film
The following films are available for you to watch for free:
The End – Science Fiction, 2011, 24 mins
A moving speculation on the future decline of Deaf culture
Smallest Woman in the World – News, 197, 28 mins.
Living in a world that takes no account of her size: Joyce Carpenter is
Britain’s smallest woman.
Trapped Rhythms – Music video, 2016, 4 mins.
A powerful music video that demands respect for difference.
Eyes of a Child – School programme and Educational film, 1961,
31 mins. Location: Dorton Ho (Sch).
Young imaginations run wild at School for Blind Children.
Resistance – Drama, 2008, 13 mins.
Artist-activist (and Forum member) Liz Crow’s haunting film about the
Nazis’ Aktion-T4 programme during World War Two. In 1939 Germany,
a secret institution has sinister plans for its Disabled inmates.
Artificial Limb Making – Non-Fiction, 1916, 1 mins, Silent.
Occupational therapy turns full circle, as amputee soldiers learn to make
artificial limbs for others
Hands Solo – 2009, 15 mins.
A Deaf man becomes a world-famous porn star thanks to some
advanced skill with his hands.
Ian Dury – Biopic, 1983, 52 mins.
Blockheads lead singer talks about how becoming a Disabled person
has affected his life and music.
Like Other People – Documentary, 1972, 51 mins.
Man Alive! The moral panic, sex, and when professionals ruled – life as
a Disabled couple in 1972.
Desire to Work – Promotional film, 1981, 18 mins.
Including Disabled people in the workforce through gadgets and aides.
Education of the Deaf – Documentary, 1946, 51 mins. Location:
A quick look at the tests and education practices for Deaf people in
Zero Hour – Charity appeal, 1928, 8 mins, Silent.
“In the kingdom of the blind, the St Dunstan’s man is king”: how blinded
WWI soldiers set up their own businesses.
Y Gwr O Gwr Yr Aran – 1978, 29 mins. Location: Llanuwchllyn
Teacher Frank Letch of Llanuwchllyn, Gwynedd discusses his life and
living with his acquired impairment in this TV documentary.
[In Welsh with English subtitles.]
A Day in the Life of Kevin Donnellon – 1972, 28 mins.
An episode of World in Action documenting the life of 11 year old Kevin
and how he and his family live with the effects of the drug Thalidomide.
An Ordinary Life – 1985, 29 mins
“I’d much rather work at a computer than make wicker baskets” –
Disabled people hit the mainstream in 1980’s Britain.
Rehabilitation at Roffey Park – 1946, 29 mins. Location:
Roffey Park (College).
The treatment of World War II Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – filmed,
astonishingly, in full colour.
Invalid Carriage Protest – News, 1977, 2 mins. Location:
Disabled motorists take on the Government and corner a Minister in the
The Mask – Documentary, 2017, 4 mins.
Personal exploration of identity and autism, with a splash of Al Murray.
You can also explore further free collections related to disability
and Disabled people, such as:
Care or Cure?
For centuries, both Disabled people and becoming Disabled were
viewed as a fearful burden, both to the family and to society at large.
This collection reflects this underlying world view, which often switches
between seeking a cure for impaired bodies and minds, and if a cure
isn’t found, to care for them.
It’s only relatively recently that Disabled people began to be seen as a
part of, not apart from, the communities where they live and work. This
collection shows the slow change in attitudes as, after Disabled people
campaigned, a more enlightened approach of ‘care in the community’
began gradually to replace the life sentence of being consigned to an
Fundraising and Charity
Beginning with caring for the returning wounded from the First World
War and ending at a special school for Disabled children in the early
1990s, these films show how the charitable response to disability was
the predominant one for many Disabled people.
Up Close and Personal
Covering three decades, this collection of personal experiences gives an
insight into how Disabled people were often viewed through two
powerful lenses. One saw disability as a personal tragedy. The other
saw Disabled people as triumphing over adversity. But Disabled people
usually aren’t like these stereotypes, if given the opportunity to speak for
Nothing About Us Without Us
Driven by better access to digital technology and online platforms, the
most recent chapter in D/deaf and disability-led filmmaking has seen an
exciting range of current work that challenges how the mainstream
represents us and puts the way we are portrayed on film back in the hands of the Disabled community.
The BFI has some more examples of Disabled Britain on Film in their
Rentals collection which you can access here: Explore Rentals