This film is part of Free

Disabled Access in Belfast City Centre

Join Belfast’s first female Lord Mayor and reconsider how disabled people navigate the streets of Belfast.

News 1981 20 mins


The International Year of the Disabled in 1981 prompted a series of Ulster Television features like this, exploring the experiences of disabled people in Northern Ireland. These rushes invite you to consider how poor planning and maintenance creates obstacles that impede access to public space. Was 1981 a watershed as hoped in this film? Next time you’re in Belfast City Centre think about what changes could still be made to improve access.

This material is Courtesy of the UTV Archive. Around the same time as this film Ian Dury wrote "Spasticus Autisticus" as a protest against the International Year of Disabled Persons. Although the year was intended to raise awareness and shift both government and public attitudes, it was also felt by many to be condescending. According to Terence Blacker, Dury was “commissioned to write a song for the Year of the Disabled, he reclaimed disability from victimhood with lyrics that steamed with rage and sarcasm.”