My Advocation Work
As an Ambassador for the national charity Retina UK, who support those with inherited retinal dystrophies, through funding vital research, giving a space for connecting with others who have similar progressive eye conditions, holding various events throughout the year to raise money for these degenerative diseases, and helping those who may be struggling with their sight loss through the helpline service I public speak, attend events, write blogs and support those with sight loss.
I spoke as the inspirational speaker at the 2018 Retina UK annual conference in London. Where I was also exhibiting my sculpture. This was a such an honour to reach out to others who are suffering with sight loss, through my personal journey of acceptance and a belief that with a positive mind set, an openness to adaptivity and the use of accessibility, anything is possible. I share my profession as a sculptor, my history through my sight loss, all my other involvements and activities, such as my love of
surfing, skateboarding, song writing, singing, playing piano and guitar, my years of travel and my advocation that my new found acceptance of my blindness has given me a freedom to live my life in a limitless way.
I now am public speaking on a regular basis, I have had the pleasure of speaking In Dublin at the Fighting Blindness Retina 18 conference, the Macular Society and 2020 will see me speaking at the Retina International world conference in Iceland as well as the World Vision conference in Dublin.
Public and inspirational speaking is such a privilege for me, as it allows me to reach many people all over the world with my message and advocacy. It's a platform that gives me the opportunity to share my story, vulnerability and the acceptance of my blindness, allowing me to heal and to reach others and offer support. It also is a great platform to create change, I believe the publics perception of the visually impaired and blind is extremely limiting. We are put into a very restrictive space, this inhibits our ability to grow. There is much more to us VIPs than just guide dogs and white canes, we are people, just like you. We want to have as much opportunity and choice as everybody else. I aim to change the publics perception and educate people so that they have a much greater understanding of what it is to have sight loss. I am involved with many organisations that are working on sight loss awareness, through my social media, interaction with others, my public speaking work and writing for a new online magazine called Captivating, which is a fully inclusive accessible lifestyle magazine aimed to celebrate those with disabilities, I get to highlight and work towards making the world a much more adaptive, accepting and accessible place for the visually impaired and blind community. I also hope that this advocation will expand to all disabilities, one of my many messages is this, Disability is not an impairment to creativity, or indeed anything. However, I do believe judgement and a lack of education from the public when it comes to those with disability, actually is more of an impairment than the adversity that is faced.
To support, encourage and celebrate the amazing talented people with disability is the food of growth, this will nourish and feed the future society, so that acceptance of all disability becomes an every day occurrence. How we do things should be accepted, not judged, I like to use a long cane that is purple, that is my right and my choice, I want to highlight that the blind can be free to use whatever works for them. I don't want to be told that I must only ever use a white cane, who says, I have the freedom of choice, I am the master of my life, how I choose to live my life is my choice and mine alone.
The advocacy that I am involved with is as follows:
To open up the visual arts to more accessible art exhibitions
The coloured canes campaign, this is an ongoing social media campaign about Blind and Visually Impaired peoples right to use any coloured long cane that they wish
Stop parking on and across pavements campaign
To educate the general public and change their perception of the blind and visually impaired community
Sight loss awareness education