This paper uses oral history and documentary materials to develop a cross-cultural comparison of the experiences of two self-advocates who spent significant parts of their lives in learning difficulty institutions in England and Iceland. Anne Lewthwaite and Eygló Ebba Hreinsdóttir, born in the same era (1948-1950), were linked through the Open University Social History of Learning Disability Group. They researched and recorded their life stories and in May 2004, jointly presented these at an Open University Conference titled 'The History of Self-Advocacy for People with Learning Difficulties: International Comparisons'. Their stories bring to life the history of the institutions and the experiences of those who 'spoke up' and challenged the system long before formal self-advocacy groups were established. Alongside this oral history work policy developments in each culture are described and compared to provide context to their life histories. The findings also highlight important similarities and differences between the two cultures in terms of the history of learning difficulty. The women's experience of participating in crosscultural oral history work is discussed together with the contribution of a comparative approach in furthering historical understanding of self-advocacy.
- Cross-cultural comparisons
- Life history