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Listening to people with disabilities

This video shows people with disabilities telling stories about disabling attitudes and stereotypes they have encountered in their lives.
STEVE: People think I’m very weird, very strange. Sometimes I feel like people talk down to me.
JORDANNA: While I was pregnant, I had a gut feeling that my daughter was deaf. And when she was born deaf, I was, like, “Yes!” And I told my friends here in Australia that she was deaf, and so the immediate reaction was, “Oh, I’m sorry.” It was interesting that we didn’t have many people say, “Oh, congratulations!” But in the States, when I told all my friends in the States, they were all like, “Yes! A deaf daughter. “Oh, you must be so proud. Oh, congratulations!” It was such a huge difference, the comparison between Australia and America.
ANTONI: When I speak to somebody and then they don’t reply directly to me, but instead, they speak to… to my wife. Yeah, it’s very clear from the way they look at me, you know, that they view me as a sick person, as an unable person.
DUNCAN: A few years ago, I was… I was actually in a pub, and I was telling my friend that I’d started studying furniture design for, like, a designer/maker course at uni, and he thought I was joking, uh, because, obviously a person with a vision impairment shouldn’t be using a panel saw. From that, I then, um, continued with uni and I’ve now worked for myself as a furniture and lighting designer. And I suppose, for me, trying to break down those barriers about whether a vision-impaired or blind or partially blind person should be able to participate in the visual arts is quite central, I suppose, to, you know, pushing forwards that, you know, I can have a successful design career.
VIVIENNE: A while back, my local supermarket store told me I was not to enter the store without a carer and told me the times I was permitted to enter the store with a carer. Oh, I ignored them and now everybody is very friendly towards me. And I get treated with respect.
JORDANNA: So when I go out and people come up to me and go, “Oh, she’s so cute!” and then they see me as deaf, and then when they realise that my daughter is deaf, they go, “Ohh, I’m so sorry!” I don’t need your sympathy. There’s nothing wrong with my daughter. I think she’s perfect the way that she is.
ANTONI: Many people, yeah, even many friends, ask Yuki why she was willing to marry a man like me. And my wife just said that, “I don’t see my husband has a disability. “He loves me, and then he can make me happy. “If I had not met him or maybe married somebody else, “I wouldn’t be as happy as I am today.” That’s what Yuki always tells anybody asking such stupid questions. (LAUGHS)

Throughout the course a diverse group of people with different impairments will talk about their lives and experiences being disabled. Some are invited experts. Others have agreed to tell us about their life experiences in more depth. Here we introduce you to five guest speakers who you will see many times both in this course and its partner course Working with Disability.

In the above video, Duncan, Steve, Vivienne, Jordanna and Antoni (pictured below, from left to right) share personal stories about the stereotypes and assumptions others have had about them, and how they have worked to challenge these attitudes.

A link to an audio description of this video is available in the See Also section below.

portraits of the five guest speakers, laughing and smiling

Talking points

As you watch the video, pick out key words and phrases where the speakers describe how they are affected by disabling attitudes.
  • What attitudes and stereotypes were most striking to you?
  • Were you surprised by any of the stories shared in the video?
  • How have these speakers tried to challenge stereotypes and attitudes?
  • If you have a disability yourself, or are closely connected to people who do, you might choose to share how the personal perceptions and experiences of the speakers resonate with or differ from your own.

If you would like to hear what Mel, your Learner Guide, had to say about this video, follow the link in the See Also section below.

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Disability and a Good Life: Thinking through Disability

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