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UK Disability History Month

Jack Ashley

Jack ashley photoJack Ashley, Baron Ashley of Stoke (6 December 1922 – 20 April 2012) was a British politician. He was a Labour Member of Parliament in the House of Commons for Stoke-on-Trent South for 26 years, from 1966 retiring from the House of Commons at the 1992 general election and was created a life peer. He also served as the first Chancellor of Staffordshire University standing down in 2004.

In December 1967, at the age of 45, as a result of complications of a routine ear operation to correct a mild hearing loss Jack became profoundly deaf. He described the event as "rather like being struck by lightning". He prepared to resign his parlimentary seat, but was persuaded to take a crash-course in lip-reading. Several weeks later he returned to the House, the UK's first totally deaf MP and said to be the only totally deaf member of parliament in the world.jack ashley as chancellor, staffs uni

Jack became a tireless campaigner for the disabled and a passionate advocate for disability rights winning broad cross-party support and respect in parliament for his approach. He founded what is now the All Party Parliamentary Disability Group in 1968. His Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill, presented in 1983, was the first piece of anti-discrimination legislation considered by the UK Parliament, although as a private member’s bill, without the support of the government, it failed to get through.  

He also had strong belief in wonen's rights, becaming the first MP to raise the issue of domestic violence in Parliament. 

In 1986, Jack and his wife Pauline founded the charity Defeating Deafness, now known as Deafness Research UK.