Mike Oliver remembered

Professor Mike Oliver, leading pioneer in the disabled rights movement has sadly passed away.

It is with great sadness we have learnt of the death of Professor Mike Oliver. A leading pioneer in the disabled rights movement Oliver was key in developing the “social model of disability”. This model fundamentally shifted the view of disability as a medical problem and instead saw the root cause of our problems in the way society is organised and the barriers we face.  He worked with disabled activists and disabled peoples’ organisations  to transform disability from a  personal and private issue to one of social justice. Oliver played a key role in the 1980s and early 1990s in persuading the government to introduce disability discrimination legislation and his work was instrumental in developing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Oliver produced extensive publications, journal articles and speeches, notably ‘The Politics of Disablement’ in 1990 and he became the first Professor of Disability Studies in the UK at the University of Greenwich. Following retirement he remained emeritus professor at the university and also worked tirelessly at a local level, campaigning in Kent for better services. He continued as an activist and remained critical of both the government and the large charities that claimed to speak for disabled people.

Mike’s energy and voice will be deeply missed. For many of us his writing and work was a first step to a feeling of empowerment and a sense that as disabled people we had rights. Inevitably the social model will transform and develop, but Professor Oliver will long be remembered as a great pioneer and one of our movement’s most influential figures.