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. […]

Continue reading
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 […]

Continue reading
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 […]

Continue reading
Image of the Great Wall of China from outside.

The Great Wall Of Inequity

So this is what broken feels like, I think as I slump against an all too familiar wall of inequity dividing the labyrinth of my life. The blue sky is ever watchful above me. I glance at it hopefully. A tiny, distrustful part of me is afraid it won’t be there, even though it’s been over a year since that fateful afternoon when it first appeared literally out of nowhere. It surprises and delights me with its audaciousness. I still remember climbing on the outdoor table to reach it. It’s the same table I sit at now, wondering if I will find the strength and stomach to get back up this time, and continue onward, the way I’ve done so many times before. The problem is, this feels different. This doesn’t feel like the exhaustion between battle rounds. This feels like a shedding of something I’m yet to put my finger on. And if I weren’t quite so shamed, shattered and […]

Continue reading
Image of a roll of toilet paper on a wall dispenser.

Busting Disabled Toilet Myths

As a person who is blind or has low vision, I’ve never considered it my right to use the designated disabled toilet. I’ve always thought of them as amenities for people who use wheel chairs, walking frames, walking sticks, crutches, or maybe an ambulant adult with children who aren’t yet at an age to be unsupervised in public restrooms, and their isn’t a designated parent’s room around. As a cane user myself, I confess that until recently I hadn’t considered just how essential disabled toilets also are for people who use guide dogs to navigate the environment. Could you imagine trying to fit thirty kilos of blond Labrador at your feet in one of those tiny, awkward to manage, let alone move in cubicles that are so often found in public areas? It’s not exactly an equitable or dignified prospect. After all, a dog isn’t the same as a white mobility cane. A girl can’t just fold it up and put […]

Continue reading