Lord Ashley of Stoke

 

Further to yesterday's obituary, Jack Ashley was hero, mentor and occasionally tormentor of those of us campaigning for disability rights in the 1980s and '90s, writes Harry Cayton, former Director of the National Deaf Children's Society. Hero because he lived the insight, courage, and tenacity of a person with disabilities; mentor because his political knowledge, personal authority and tactical cunning taught us how to campaign for change; tormentor because he refused to accept less from us than he demanded of himself. Jack demanded of disability campaigners that they they had their facts right, offered solutions not problems, were genuine and persistent. These were all features of his long life of campaigning against injustice in many, many causes.

In person he was, of course, frustrated by his deafness and his inabiltyto lipread as well as he wished, "Say again?" was the phrase that I heardmost often as I struggled to speak clearly and he struggled to understand what I was saying.

As is widely understood, jack and Pauline Ashley were one political force. She was his ear to the world and, ashe acknowledged, a principal force in his overcoming of his diability. It was in his name that she established the research charity, Deafness UK in 1985. I am proud to have been a founding trustee. Jack Ashley has many memorials but the best are in the many lives he changed by his moral force and campaigning skill.

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