The events leading to the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) dramatically raised the growing profile of disabled people in Britain and prompted media and public recognition that there was a 'disability movement', even though that movement had been in existence for some time. The movement had been seeking comprehensive civil rights for disabled people through a series of Private Members' Bills proposed by the then opposition Labour Party. These attempts were consistently opposed by the Conservative government but such was the heavy cross-party and public support in favour of legislation, that it was forced to make a reluctant U-turn. The limited and piecemeal DDA which was eventually introduced fell far short in its provisions from the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill preferred by the disability movement. But the fact that it was enacted at all signalled a profound change in the political agenda on disability. 'A very able pressure group' was the headline of an article by Victoria Macdonald in the Sunday Telegraph which referred to the 'wind of change' that the government had somehow 'missed'. 'The most remarkable point' Macdonald continued 'was the Government's belief that the civil rights bill could be shelved without such a fuss; for the growth of the disability pressure group-indeed the growth in the numbers of “disabled”-is one of the features of British life in the past 20 years' (15 May 1996).
Over the last decade new images of disabled people have entered the media catalogue, as a result of disabled people taking protest to the streets to publicise a variety of issues-including benefits, lack of access to transport and buildings, patronising television Telethons and demands for civil rights. These images showed disabled people chained to inaccessible buses or trains, blocking traffic in the streets, crawling along the pavement outside the Houses of Parliament, and more recently in 1997 protesting at proposed benefit cuts, smearing symbolically angry red paint on themselves and the pavements of Downing Street.
Although these new images contradicted traditional media stereotypes of dependency, physical limitation, or individual 'courageous' achievement, they