Finding collections relating to d/Deaf, disabled and neurodiverse people

One of the aims of our project is to make collections relating to d/Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people more visible – and to share some of the objects our Fellows and Trainees are discovering.

Some will have quite obvious connections to disabled people’s lives – a walking stick, some braille or images of disabled people. But we will also be exploring less obvious connections too. Sometimes the significance of an object is its owner; its part in a bigger story, or the way someone with lived experience of disability has responded to it. In this way we hope to broaden the ways that d/Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent stories are told.



Rights information: Copyright: Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford


This woodblock print, likely from a blockbook - a short form of illustrative book popular in Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries, and often comprising of religious scenes - depicts the miracle of Jesus healing two blind men during his Ministry, as accounted in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 9:27-31).

"The Ministry of Christ" refers to the series of events following Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist, and subsequent journey across the province of Roman Judea to spread the faith and perform miracles, during the course of which he recruited his Disciples. One such miracle is the healing of two blind men, who sought him out and requested that he give them sight. In this particular illustration we see Jesus surrounded by his Disciples, while one of the blind men is led by a dog, the other holding onto his arm for support.

Community curation: As part of a lecture exploring the intersection of Disability and Faith, given to the public during the Ashmolean Museum's "One World" Festival in February 2023, a blind Christian community member in Oxford remarked to me during preparation that it's noteworthy that the blind men sought out Jesus for his miracles; Jesus did not seek them out, nor was his healing seen as necessary. There are multiple miracles that take place during his Ministry that concern the healing of the blind or other disabilities, but these miracles are likely meant to emphasise the strength of faith in Christianity and the power of God, rather than necessarily pass a value judgement on disabled people.

- Kyle Lewis Jordan, Curating for Change Fellow, Ashmolean Museum and Pitt Rivers Museum