Image of Barcelona Olympic Stadium showing seating area and race track below the famous clock.

The Race Is Not Yet Lost And Won

How many times had I been in this position? It must have been thousands as my coaches and I practiced and prepared for this kind of ambition over the last four years. My arms braced, my feet angled in the blocks, my head down in concentration, and the pads of my fingers pressing into the rough, almost crumbly surface of the race track. My mind and every muscle in my body waiting in tense anticipation to pounce, waiting for the hard crack of the starter’s gun. This is my favourite part. The smallest of spaces between the set-up and the story. The script readying to write itself in a sprinter’s scrawl across time as it unfurls beneath every carefully choreographed and clipped step. The year is 1992 – the year that changed history. Until then, the Paralympics had not been under the same organisational banner as the Olympics. Finally progress had stamped her approval, and for the first time, the Paralympic […]

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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 Labrador Guide Dog

How Much Is That Guide Dog In The Window

Shoulders back, drop your arm, soften your fingers, lengthen your torso, head up, feet together and most importantly relax, my instructor says, breathing out on that last word and chuckling at my awkwardness. It feels more like a ballet lesson with its graceful movements, flourishing gestures, precise foot positioning and adherence to protocol than a beginner’s class in mobility. I laugh nervously as I attempt to unwind my reluctant body into a more natural and sleek shape against the backdrop of my brand new guide dog. It’s a moment in time I thought and wished I’d never have to deal with. But here I am, wondering less about how it came to this and more about how it isn’t as earth shattering, soul destroying, dignity stealing and self-sacrificing as I’d expected. In other words, how come I’m still breathing? And why hasn’t the sky fallen in “Henny Penny” style as I’ve always predicted if this day ever came? I’d taken delivery […]

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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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