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Disrupted by industrial unrest and economic crises, yet for children and young people, a decade of some progress, including for disability rights campaigners and a shift towards a more inclusive society.

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Signalling the need for change

We published Living with Handicap, a report that had a major influence on future action for children with disability, including the creation of our own Council for Disabled Children (CDC).

Living with Handicap: the report of a working party on children with special needs (1970) was an influential NCB publication that paved the way for the Education Act 1981 and the creation of our own CDC in 1974.
Front cover of the NCB publication Living with Handicap. Title name and authors.

"They're only human beings like everyone else"

Through the eyes of disabled people, including families, and professionals and politicians, this episode of the long-running Thames TV documentary series, World In Action, looked at the implications of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act, the pioneering 1970 legislation that transformed lives.

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World in Action - They're only human beings like everyone else (1970). Published on YouTube by Cambridge Historian.
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Obituary news reports from the BBC on 14 August 2012 following the death of Lord Morris, the UK's first minister for the disabled and the MP who initially put forward the CSPDA Bill. Published on YouTube by Campaign TB

A landmark piece of legislation that changed disabled people’s lives forever

Receiving Royal Assent on 9 May 1970, the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act (CSPDA) was a pioneering piece of legislation in the development of service provision for people with a variety of impairments and long-term health conditions.


Exposing the barriers to opportunity

Born To Fail? was published by the NCB, based on conclusions from the National Child Development Study. A groundbreaking report, it received considerable media coverage, including a feature in Time magazine.

Born to Fail? (1973) was a seminal NCB publication and provided invaluable analysis of the NCDS data.
Front cover of the NCB publication Born To Fail. Three boys running.

Using data to highlight the need for change

As this clip from a film made by UCL's Centre for Longitudinal Studies attests, Born To Fail? made clear connections using the NCDS data between educational performance, physical growth and social backgrounds and it had a major impact on the direction of public policy on the development of children and young people. CREDIT: UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies, 2019.

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Laying foundations for a social model of disability

The establishment of the Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS) in 1972 was an important moment in the history of the Disabled People's Movement.

A pioneering disabled people-led organisation, it laid the groundwork for the social model of disability, which argues that people are disabled by barriers in society, not by their impairment or difference. Paul Hunt was a disabled writer and activist who spearheaded the Disabled People’s Movement and was key in the formation of UPIAS.

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Paul Hunt was a disabled writer and activist who spearheaded the Disabled People’s Movement. CREDIT: Reproduced by kind permission of Judy Hunt.

A champion of disability rights is born

We founded the Council for Disabled Children (known as the Voluntary Council for Handicapped Children until 1992), in response to one of the recommendations of the 1970 Living with Handicap report co-written by eminent social work expert and NCB board member Dame Eileen Younghusband to create an independent resource and information centre for professionals and parents concerned with all aspects of disability.

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A man and a woman standing next to a briefcase containing an electronic device
The first profoundly deaf Member of Parliament and an active campaigner for disability rights, Jack Ashley, with a visual hearing aid for the deaf being demonstrated in London in February 1977. CREDIT: Photo by United News/Popperfoto via Getty Images.

A political pioneer

Labour MP Jack Ashley was an influential voice with lived experience in Westminster across three decades, supporting a variety of campaigns for disability rights.

Our home for over 40 years

Around the same time as the Council for Disabled Children was formed, we moved from Fitzroy Square to these north London offices at 8 Wakley Street, where we remained until moving to our current location in London Fields in 2018.

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CREDIT: National Children's Bureau


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Dr Mia Kellmer Pringle summarising some of the issues facing young people with care experience. Taken from the film Who Cares? Now, made by NCB and released in 1983.

Listening to and supporting care experienced children and young people

Dr Mia Kellmer Pringle summarising some of the issues facing young people with care experience. This is one of the few moments (possibly the only time) the thoughts of our hugely influential founding director, who ran NCB from its inception in 1963 until her retirement in 1981, were captured on film.

Who Cares? We do.

Who Cares? Young People in Care Speak Out was published, leading many local authorities and voluntary organisations to review policies and practices in dealing with children and young people in care. For many care experienced young people it became an essential publication. You can read it online here (many thanks to Colin Pettigrew for finding!)

Booklet cover titled "Who Cares? Young people in care speak out"


Leading a global call for children's rights

Alongside UNICEF and Save the Children, we co-sponsored the UN International Year of the Child, a proclamation designed to draw attention to problems that affected children throughout the world, and recognise the rights and needs of children and "for the warmth of affection, for adequate nourishment, for health services and for educational preparation for their future”. The momentum that began here led to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. Click here to watch highlights of the visit of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to the "World's Greatest Children's Party" which was held over two days in May 1979 in London's Hyde Park with over 160,000 children attending to celebrate the International Year of the Child.