Disability: Ask us anything

Stand and spin. Okay, can you come forward?
Nina, up stand, come forward. Good girl, and you sit. Okay, there we go. Good girl, stay
there, okay? Have you ever tried to hide your disability? No Uh, good luck to us with that Yeah no, that’s not gonna happen No, doesn’t work So, can you, do you, listen to music? Since I had my second implant, my world has
just reopened to music. Spotify is just the best thing in the world. If you woke up tomorrow without your disability,
what would be the first thing you’d do? Oo okay I’d go to the movies genuinely! Go for a run, I don’t know, that sounds
so cliché Throw away all my medication How did you choose your chair? Is it like
shopping for a car? Yes, absolutely. You can customise everything.
You basically get to choose, depends on how much money you have to spend I guess, which
is very similar to a car. (Are there any ‘everyday’ events that
you avoid?) I don’t necessarily like turning up to lectures
early or on time, I try to arrive late because I don’t want to have to deal with the waiting,
the agitation and anxiety associated with waiting for something to start I tend to avoid going into coffee shops at
peak times because of the number of people in there, and the amount of noise because
the more noise, the less I can hear and the less therefore I can see. New Year’s Eve or Mardi Gras, anything where
there’s a parade going on and you have to kind of squeeze your way to the front and
there’s people pushing from behind (Do you prefer people to acknowledge or ignore
your disability?) I guess yeah, I like it when people sort of
go, ‘oh you might be hearing impaired, I’ll make sure you can see me before I start talking’
or that sort of stuff If I’m standing on a street corner looking
really really lost, come over and ask if I’m okay, that’s really good. But some people
are just not sure if they should do that or not. Has your disability impacted your relationships? Yes it has, before being diagnosed with autism
spectrum disorder, I had a relationship where at one point my girlfriend came home from
work where she was helping an autistic child, and said, ‘you know what, I’m pretty sure
you’ve got that’. Up until then, she was a bit frustrated with my anxiety, with my
quirks and ways of communicating. I’ve been in a relationship now for just
under two years and like its never kind of been an issue, like it was a case of well,
this is who you are, and this is, you know, our relationship and its been great and it
wasn’t ever a something we needed to address as like a ‘well we can’t possibly be in
a relationship until we talk this through’ Do you prefer to hang out with people who
also have a disability? I don’t mind, it doesn’t make a difference
to me. I kind of like to see people with a disability, no matter what it is, being included. Prefer? No, but I’m not not going to.
I don’t instinctively find someone in a wheelchair and be like, ‘let’s hang out’ I like hanging out with people that also have
similar problems to me because they understand what it’s like to go through. Do you have a tv? Yes, a very big one, and it’s still not
big enough. What are the worst examples in media, tv,
movies etc, of portrayals of people with disabilities? I was watching something the other day that
had a character in it that was totally blind and it sort of like was portraying, and it
was a comedy so I understand you have to do these things, but it sends out a bit of
a wrong message. He was finding that he wasn’t he was reading a brail book and it wasn’t making
any sense and then the sighted person had to come to the rescue and blow off the sesame
seeds. I’m going to say Artie from Glee Oh yeah I can’t stand him, as a portrayal, he’s
got his great singing voice, he’s talented and everything, but they gave him training
wheels on his wheelchair and push handles and made him dress nerdy and dorky. Boston Legal and there was a guy with Asperger’s
on there and he always held his hands on his lap, and he’d talk to people in a weird way, he’d
run around and be quirky and to that extent its not necessarily realistic, in my perspective. What do you do for exercise? Do you go to
the gym? No, no I don’t. Do you? I do actually, I have a specialised trainer
who specialises in disability training. [What does a guide dog actually do?] With her I can go into a strange building
and ask Nina to find the lift or find the counter or find the steps. She gives me confidence
with what I do. I don’t think I’d be here at this University teaching and doing what
I do unless she was onboard. Are your other senses heightened? Perhaps. I do a lot of seeing with my eyes.
I’m trying to always look at the face. I can hear things at the side of me, and the
back of me, but I like to look at the face. [What stigmas surround your disability? How
do you deal with them?] Dangerous or lazy… but I think that’s not
true so if someone treats me a way that I don’t like because I’ve told them about my mental
illness, I’ll not be their friend anymore or i’ll just try not to get affected. What myth do you want busted? We can still do all the things we want to
do. Might be a bit harder to do them but a lot of the things that I’ve always sort
of wanted to do just take a bit more planning but they can still be done. That people with disabilities are separate,
you know that they’re different, they’re somehow in a different category of humans.
We’re all human, so yeah, the idea that we’re separate and different is something
I’d like to see ditched. For most people blindness is black blind,
no eyesight, no nothing. Not all of us are going to have guide dogs not all of us are
going to be obviously low vision. So it’s sort of understanding that we are individuals
as vision impaired people, we’re not just one definition. Are jokes about disability ever OK? They are when we say them. I think it’s one of those things, I think
it’s funny if we say them. Not to me, not to my face. Yeah. How do you tell if a blind parachutist
is about to hit the ground? The harness on the guide dog goes slack. What’s the biggest perk of living with a
disability? Cutting lines, I do it all the time. A good night’s sleep, and if you have young
children who wake up frequently in the the middle of the night, well you know… Total manipulation of like: ‘oh excuse me can I just get past here?’ and like running into people’s ankles just because they’re in the way and then they’re the ones that apologise to me! Having a dog that you can take anywhere. [What’s your biggest challenge in participating
in student and campus life?] I’ve never done studying full time, I’ve
always done up to about three subjects and that’s gonna be a real challenge. For me it’s all of the little things, like,
‘oh watch this video to learn how to do this thing, except we haven’t captioned it so you know,
enjoy that’. [What’s one thing everyone should know about
people living with disability?] What people should know is that acknowledge
what they may or may not know. That we’re people. Be nice to everyone because you never know
what they’re going through. I want everyone to know that we want to be
included not excluded. That’s better, that’s better. I’m going
to change my answer, that’s better!. [What’s your favourite hobby?] Drinking wine, and actually my eyesight improves
after a glass of red. I am a huge foodie. I love food. Have you ever tried to hide your disability? When I applied for my first job, I told them
during the interview that I had a hearing loss. but thankfully, he didn’t worry about
it, he still gave me the job. Doesn’t work now with a guide dog though.
I can’t really pack her up and put her in my backpack. I’ve spent more of my time hiding my hearing
impairment that I have been being open about it to be honest. Or certainly hiding the
extent of it. But I’ve never been shy to be like ‘oh yes, so I’m hearing impaired,
I wear a hearing aid, you know. You don’t need to change anything, we’ll just proceed
as normal’. But I didn’t want to get discriminated against Always. My disability is, I try the best to
hide everything that I’ve got, to be as normal as possible. Yeah, me too. Me too. Everything from meeting people through to
interactions at uni through to interactions at work I’m constantly trying to hide my disability
through little things and trying to improve myself to make myself more normal. I censor myself a lot just to make sure that
I’m socially acceptable. Is it right or wrong to ask if I can help
you, is there a best way to do so? I think it’s okay. I mean, don’t jump
all over me every second when I’m trying to do things and is there a best way? I don’t think so, just try not to make it too in my face – or patronising, like: ‘do you need
help’. That’s always fun when you get that one. Just be like, ‘hey can I give you a hand’,
just normal polite human interaction. Don’t be rude about it, don’t be in my
face, that’s all. I think that it’s always right to help,
but I think the key bit there is not assuming. Asking. There’s nothing wrong with being
like, ‘oh hey, I know you’ve got a hearing impairment, is there anything you need from
me? Is there anything I can do?’ I get that sometimes and I’m like ‘oh that’s lovely.’ But if it’s: ‘oh you’re hearing impaired, I’ll help you’, that’s not actually helpful. I would say that if the person noticed someone
that’s agitated, that they’re looking like they’re anxious and they’re agitated,
then I would ask, it would be nice if someone took it upon themselves to come over and say:
‘how are you doing, are you okay?’ Have you met any others on campus living with
disabilities? How? Well just now with Gordon, and I’ve met
friends in social work and I’ve told them about my mental illness because I’ve had
some troubles recently and they were really supportive as well as some of them opening
up about them experiencing depression or anxiety and other mental illnesses. Well I have, because I’ve been really involved
in the University’s Disability at Work Network, so I’ve met a lot of staff through that
have various disabilities. But something I want to make really clear is that literally
everybody, not matter who you are, has met somebody, or multiple people with a disability,
because a lot of disabilities are invisible. So the answer to this question for everyone
is yes. [What would the ideal university look like
for students living with a disability?] That we all have disabilities so we’re all
equal. Inclusion. So instead of not including some
people because they behave differently you include them in everything that you do. So
the social stigma associated with, not necessarily snobbishness but it would
be a utopia if every university student got along with each other. I guess for me it would be a university that’s
focused on accessibility as the norm. Not having to have special rooms that are accessible
or not having to make an extra effort to get something captioned or not having to make an extra,
like a university where accessibility is really built-in. I think Sydney Uni is pretty good. Ideal I
guess, lifts everywhere? Maybe a few more bathrooms? – parking spaces!
-yeah I think it’s more of a cultural
thing really in a sense that ideal would just mean that there’s never any question about
the fact that students with disabilities are totally integrated into the culture the University actually has a Disability Action Plan which has been so successful that they’re
actually exporting it to other universities in Australia and overseas. I’m Pia, I study social work and philosophy
in the Bachelor of Arts. My name is Gordon, I’m a student at the
University of Sydney. I’m Sheelagh Daniels-Mayes. I started at
Sydney University in January this year as a lecturer and researcher in Aboriginal education. I’m Andrew. I’m a student here at the
University of Sydney. I do the international and global studies degree. and I’m also a staff member and work for the Faculty of Engineering as an industry placements officer. Hi my name is Laura. I am a student. I am
majoring in neuroscience under the Science Faculty. My names Sarahjane Thompson, I’m a trainer
here at the University of Sydney in student administration. My name is Jennie Brand-Miller and I’m a Professor of Human Nutrition at the University of Sydney.

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