Last year on International Day of People with Disability (IDPD) I was in a place where I was scared to speak up for myself. Sure, I was happy to speak up when it came to my work and advocating for others, but when I saw an issue that upset me personally, that was a whole other story.
I was unable to open my mouth and Speak Up.
So on IDPD I wrote a short piece thanking those who were brave enough to speak up for the disability community. Once again I want to thank those people, the advocates, the activists and the individuals who stand up every day and fight for equality.
If you want to read that piece, I have something very exciting. I recorded it last year and you can hear it: here
However, I want to share something with you all. Something happened this year. Yes, I am still shy and scared of confrontation but through my blog people have approached me to speak at events and write articles for online publications.
When Fifi Box shared her experience of parking in a disabled parking spot and turned it into a funny story I found the courage to voice my concerns. Fifi encouraged people to think it is ok to park in a Disabled Parking Spot. I wanted to make sure it clear that this isn’t ok and by standing up to Fifi I believe I made that clear.
Later this year I was asked to talk at my old university, the University of Melbourne, to share my personal story of living with a disability and to also share systemic issues people with a disability face on a regular basis. Issues like the lack of funding to pay for personal care or medical supportlack of employment opportunities and access to education and lastly, the lack of support to live independently.
I then went on to talk about how to overcome these barriers to a group of high school students, preparing for year twelve and their future.
Lastly, I covered the topic of relationships, focusing on people with a disability not being asexual but desiring sex, just like everyone else.
I shared my personal experience of disclosing my disability when using social media. I came to the conclusion that being honest sorts out the potentials from those who don’t want to venture out of their comfort zone.
In 2013 I lacked the confidence to Speak Up but in 2014 I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to use my voice and be heard by thousands of people. However some aren’t that fortunate and so my goal for 2015 is to support those people. Their voices need to be encouraged and people need to listen.