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 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 the cap and scroll an undergraduate dreams of.

The Undergraduate

You’ve got to be kidding, I say to my husband, my voice drenched with resentment. How is any of this fair, I wonder as I struggle to gain control of my emotions. He’s just finished telling me how he completed his entire undergraduate degree without independently looking up a single academic database for supplementary materials whatsoever. I’ve recently begun my PhD. I’m sitting on the lounge scrolling through academic articles on my phone when he comes into the room utterly miffed by the discovery that academic information has to be bought like a hand of bananas or loaf of bread. He always thought it was freely available, and is curious as to how the system works. I explain it according to my very limited understanding, but am distracted by something immediately unravelling in my mind, and unbeknownst to him, I cannot possibly have this discussion right now. I’m too busy reeling back in horror at the fundamental shifting of my universe. […]

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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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