Hi everyone I hope you’ve had a good weekend despite the rain that has decided to descend upon us here in England.
Today’s post will be ever so slightly different, regarding style. I’m going to be writing a post as if I were writing a speech to be given to young people who are visually impaired or who have any form of disability. I would want to empower people without sounding too condescending.
This idea comes off the back of my sixth form days that I spent at a specialist school for people with visual impairments. Every so often we would have people come in to talk about what they were doing in terms of their work. In my memory the majority of people who came in to speak to us worked in office work or in IT.
I’m a firm believer that if an individual knows their own abilities and limitations and fully utalizes all possible help they can achieve great things and don’t have to fall the steryotyplical jobs or unemployment. So without further ado lets go.
Hello everyone my name is Ellie I’m 26 years old and I work in an SEN school for children aged 3 – 19 with moderated to profound and multiple learning disabilities.
When I was younger I didn’t have a distinct idea of what I wanted to do or be when I grew up. I always fancied myself as a famous personality however, I think a lot of little girls of about 10 or 11 are drawn to the luxurious, glitz and glamour that fame can bring. The fantasy of being remembered and known by everyone, not feeling like an invisible face in the crowed is also an exciting part of that world.
As I grew older my mentality started to change. I thought about being a nurse at one point in my life. Nevertheless, I went to uni, studied contemporary performance, applied myself and came out with a good solid 2.1.
During my time at uni I volunteered at a theatre company for adults with learning disabilities. Through that contact I sarted doing part time support work for two of the young ladies who attended the theatre company.
Up until that point in my life I had no real idea of where my life was headed, what I wanted to do after uni or how to go about finding interesting work. It was this one oppitunity that gave me that all inportant light bulb moment.
For the first time in my life I had an idea as to what sort of work I would be interested in doing. I wanted to work with people. More specifically I wanted to work with people with a disability. I found the work interesting, diverse, challenging and never boring. I’m not someone who could have a 9 -5 office job. It wouldn’t take that long before you would find a shrivled, drivaling puddle version of me loytering in the corner somewhere. But that’s just me. We are all differnt and find different things fun and attractive.
Once I had finished my degree I was once again at a bit of a loss of what to do and where to head. My degree subject had not given me any knowledge or training in the type of work that I thought I could possibly persue. So what the hell was I going to do next?
In the September of 2014 I started a degree in Learning disability nursing. This, I thought would set me out for a good, long and prosperous career. Due to my lack of proper support. lack of understanding from the university, naievaty and lack of technology to help aid me I was not allowed to continue the course.
This was a devistating turn of events and one that I hadn’t really factored into my thinking. During my time at school and my time doing my first degree I had become accustomed to having my needs met, having help and not really having to think to much about the impact of my sight.
This experiance, therefore, taught me a great deal. Understand how you’re sight impacts your learning and work style, accept that you do need help and don’t be afraid to ask for it. Utalize every possible aid that you have access to, to help you improve your chances. Be prepared for set backs and lack of understanding and pre concieved judgments concerning your ability to perform certain tasks.
Unfortunatly we still live in a world where employers and educators in mainstream settings don’t have the right knowledge, stratagies and techniques to help you. You have to be the one to prove what you are capable of. Don’t shy away from what you want and need. Accept, embrace and utalize every possible stratagy to help break down the barriers that you may face.
Even if you don’t know what you want to do now accept that there will be oppitunities that arise in your future that you can’t imagine arising at this point in your life. When they do arise don’t shy away from them. Grab hold of them and figure out how to persue what you want to do. No one can tell you what you can and can’t do until you’ve tried it. Only after all stratagies have been exhausted can you truely know if someting is working for you or not.
We all have to accept that there will be certain things that we may never be able to do, driving for instance, being an airline pilot, it is rather unlickly that we will ever be able to fight for queen and country. However, you are a human being full of possibilities. You are worth every once of what you give the world.
You may have an excellent eye for maths or the sciences, something I would give an arm and a leg to be good at. You may be able to chanel the likes of Dickens or Shakespere. You may be the next Beyonce, Michael Jackson or Bill Gates. You may feel strongly about activism and change the world. Who knows, the possibilities are endless.
Knowing or discovering who you are, your passions and you’re ideal work enviroment is the most important factor for your future. Don’t settle for second best just because someone else says so. Don’t caunt yourself out just because you have a visual impairment. You deserve the right to equal access to the work that you want and need to do.
You are the person who dictates your future. In the course of your life you will come across bumps and junctions in the road. You may feel lost and unsure of how to find your way again and you know what? That’s normal. In fact I would go as far to say it would be rather strange if you didn’t face any hiccups in life.
The way we deal with those situations, how we decide to move forward, the help and advice we seek and the ability to reflect and create action plans to move forward are what make you a rounded person. Knowing what works for you in different situations will help you to present the best version of you possible.
As I stated earlier I work in a school. Some of you may be thinking how are you able to do that? Well I have developed a couple of techniques that are so stupidly simple that it’s almost rediculous. For example when I’m supporting the children on the playground I walk around more often to be able to see where specific children are. This is because my long distance is atroushous so I combat that easily enough.
Some children may like tipping chairs over or pulling hair. Due to the fact that I know these sorts of behaviour are likly to present themselves in oppotune moments I have learnt that it’s always best practice to be constantly vidual. However, this is due, in part because I know the student’s and how to help manage behaviour rather than any techniques I implement due to my visual impairment.
I love my job. Working with kids is what I want to do and I fully intend to make a career out of it. I myself want to go back to uni to study Occupational Therapy and hopefully specialize in pediatric work. From my own past expriences I have come to realize that I have to take the leading step in how I work and learn best. I have to work with others to come to the best possible solution to help me achieve the best possible outcome and move forward.
Basically what I am trying to say is that it’s important to know what you are required to do in your job or education setting, become familiar with the type of activities that you will be facing and carrying out on a daily basis and create your own techniques for coping and ask your employer or educator for appropriate accomadations as they are legally required to do so.
Don’t let society or yourself hold you back. You are not your visual impairment. You are an individual who wants their needs to be met and succeed in life. You just happen to have different challenges that you have to face so be the best version of you possible by going and getting what you deserve.
I hope you enjoyed this post. I decided to write this one because I don’t believe that young people with a disability are given enough empowerment from a young age. By accepting ourselves and the help and techniques that we can and should be using, we are able to make a positive contribution to society. We should never be made to feel like we are different and unable to access learning or work based on disability.
Some of this initative falls into our own hands. We cannot expect to be handed the world on a silver platter, nor can we become annoyed or frustrated if we simply and easily fall into steryotypes. Society won’t change if we don’t make a change ourselves. We have to work with others to teach and learn about how each individual works best. We have to prove that we are capable of achieveing the things we strive for and that we don’t want or have to conform to societies views on disability. We are individual people who deserve to be treated as just that, individual humans with rights.
Until next week my lovlies I hope you have a fabulous weekend (especially seeing as it’s a bank holiday, hurrah for an extra day to have a lie in). Lets hope the rain abaits a bit for the next three days. See you next Friday :).