Image of antique school desks.

School Of Hard Dots

The year is 1988. Billy Ocean is singing “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car”. Steven Hawking has released A Brief History of Time. Rain Man is topping the box office. Big hair and thick scrunch socks are in. Partying involves the Blue Light Disco hosted at the local concert hall by the police. Google is not yet invented. Mobile phones are not on the market. A bag of hot chips costs less than a dollar. And this is high school. My Perkins Brailler, invented in 1951, yet still the most used mechanical braille writer in the world, weighing in at 4.8 kilograms thumps awkwardly against my thigh. Its bell tinging ever so slightly with the movement of my footsteps as I hurriedly lug it down the shabby corridor toward my designated room. It’s a room that by its very necessity marks me as someone who doesn’t belong, despite what my school uniform is designed to portray. It’s a room […]

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Image of a computer, a cup of coffee and a writing pad and pen on a table.

An Open Letter To University

Dear University, Much has been researched and written regarding the disadvantage and inequity experienced by people with disability in the university system. There are entire academic disciplines, departments and databases devoted to the topic. To explain how it has effected me as a person who is well within the realm of legal blindness is difficult. It is difficult because somehow I am the one who carries the shame and burden of not measuring up to an impossible standard, set by a structure and history of exclusion and invalidation of my needs, wants and rights. I try not to think about it too deeply, but I know I would be even less likely to succeed without opportunities within the university system to present my case, justify my academic performance, and explain why I am not nearly as accomplished as I would be if I were not navigating the very real barriers that come with having a severe sensory disability, and all the […]

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Image of a woman's hands with planet earth hovering above them.

For All The World To See

What would you do if you could see? The question is posed by a stranger on the train, a shop assistant, colleague, potential employer, acquaintance, friend, or society in general, like a spider meticulously threading its web of power and liberty around a fly, innately illustrating yet again to me just who has the upper hand in this situation. I can almost see the expectation hanging in the air between us as I take a deep breath and gather my wits about me like a protective cloak, knowing this could get ugly. Of course, I am expected to reward such obtrusive attention with a walk along the moral high ground, with its gracious answers and honey sweet nectar. Never mind the encroachment, intimacy, invasion or intrusion on my very being, let alone the offensiveness or impossible nature of the question. The fact is, everyone does disability differently. There are as many means, ways and work-arounds for people with disability as there […]

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Image of a blank menu on a table.

A Braille Menu Please

I think we live in a society that does not value diversity, difference or disability. If anything, our society sees anything other than sameness as a burden, bother or threat, unless it is temporarily convenient to view it as otherwise to meet an ableist objective. We don’t seem to realise that it is our cultural, community and communication values, as well as the systems and structures we continue to put in place that are the real problem. We continue to overlook the untapped potential and unused resources of our vast and creative population. But for what purpose? It is our intricacies that necessitate the drive for innovation, and it is our need to belong that brings us together and pulls humanity into the future. But what happens when we continue to create barriers to participation? Not only does it hold people with disability to ransom, and ensures they remain beholden to a society that is intent on punishing them for it, […]

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Image of a blue plaid cane makeover design.

A Cane For Every Pair Of Shoes

If I were sighted, I think I would have been a fashion designer. I have always loved fashion, be it the various colours, textures, accessories or as a means of self-expression. Most of all, I have always loved how it makes me think, feel and respond. Family legend has it that the only way I would agree to potty train as a toddler was if I could have a pair of frilly knickers in exchange. My childhood is littered with fashion landmarks such as the beautiful, intricately patterned brown cowgirl boots I received for my eighth birthday, the wide elastic black belt with the neutral coloured peplyn top I got for my twelfth, and the frayed stretch denim shorty short shorts when I was eighteen. In adulthood, I expressed my fondness for fashion via those ridiculously high, strappy stilettos I bought when I was twenty-five. Everything from the stunning red, faux crocodile skin laptop bag I had in my thirties to […]

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