The Model Conversation


Since CAIL was founded in 2009 we have been asking people with disabilities and their carers what can be done to achieve independent living now and in the future.  What The Model Conversation aimed to do was to find out what circumstances were like for people with disabilities in the recent past and how things have changed up until the present and by doing this be able to explore what changes need to be made to improve things even more in the future.

Attitudes towards disability have changed significantly over the last few decades, with a move away from the Medical Model of disability (essentially meaning that medicine is the sole approach to improving the lives of people with disabilities) towards the Social Model of disability (which emphasises the need for society to adapt to the differing needs of people with disabilities).  Although this has resulted in some changes for the better in the lives of people with disabilities and their carers, we believe there is still much more to be done.  By interviewing people about their lives and experiences we were able  to investigate and document some of these changes and in so doing see how far we have come and how far we still have to go.


Entitled “The Model Conversation – exploring the histories of people with disabilities to inform the future of everyone” this was a 15 month project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, (  By the end of it the project leader, Justin Craig, had facilitated in-depth interviews with 20 people with disabilities recording their spoken memories by recruiting and training a team of volunteers to conduct the interviews.

All of these interviews have been transcribed and can be found on the ‘The Interviews’ page.

The Model Conversation enabled local volunteers to discover the history of people with disabilities. They gained interviewing and multi-media experience and received accredited training from the Oral History Society. In addition the project gave a voice to people with disabilities, documenting their lived experiences in their own words.

By using the interviews as a basis materials were developed for use by schools and other organisations as a training and educational resource.  These can be found on the ‘The Educational Resources’ page. These modules were developed for KS3 students but can easily be modified for use with other age groups and in other settings.

A short documentary was also made about the project and the people interviewed.  The film is available as a discursive resource designed to generate debate and challenge accepted views.  It can be watch on the CAIL YouTube channel,or by following the link at the top of this page.