Contact details

As well as being a freelance writer I am also a qualified counsellor and I work for a low cost counselling service in Exeter and for the NHS Gender Clinic also in Exeter.

Simultaneously, I work as a Disability Member of the First Tier Tribunal, Social Entitlement Chamber sitting on disability benefit tribunals on an ad hoc basis.

As a writer I specialise in writing about disability and health.

My articles have been published in the Guardian, Times, OUCH! [BBC disability website], Disability Now, Broadcast, Lifestyle [Motability magazine], The Practising Midwife, 'Junior, Pregnancy & Baby', Writers' News, Able, Getting There [Transport for London magazine], Junior, Community Care, DPPi [Disability, Pregnancy & Parenthood International]. I have also had articles commissioned by Daily Mail.

For more information about me and for examples of my writing please see below.

If you would like me to write an article for your publication, about any aspect of disability, please do get in touch:

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Paralympics - portrayal pros and cons

The Paralympics is a tricky thing in terms of its portrayal of disabled people.

It's possible that confusion might kick in when viewers start to think 'well if that wheelchair/amputee/blind person can do that why can't they all?'  But it should be obvious that in the same way that not all non disabled people can become Olympic contenders neither can all disabled people become Paralympians.

The Paralympics features an elite sector of the disabled population who have trained extremely hard to be the best at their sport.  Simple as that really.
There is an interesting mix of responses to these athletes - incredularity, admiration, pity, recognition of the competitive spirit, 'what's wrong with him/her', use of words like 'suffer' or 'superhuman'.

The thing about all these responses is that they are actually pretty understandble given that on a day to day basis the vast majority of the public don't have any contact with disabled people and they don't get any real insight via the TV, radio, in magazines or papers because disabled people just don't feature that much in the media.

However, I'd like to think that people's perceptions may start to positively change as a result of this mass Paralympic coverage - gosh there must have been more disabled people on TV these last few days than there has been in the last few decades!

So at the very least this coverage means the public are seeing disabled people - both athletes and spectators - who are getting on with their lives, doing things for themselves, being positive about their impairments, looking fabulous and being fit.  A lot of that would fly in the face of many people's perceptions of disability. 

What the coverage obviously won't show is what it is like to be a disabled person on a day to day basis, living in the real world - facing attitudinal, physical, financial and bureaucratic barriers at every turn.  

Whether this 'reality' coverage will come after interest in disability has been piqued as a result of the Paralympics we'll have to wait and see.  I really hope that will be the case then maybe we can finally start to shift the inaccurate view of disability once and for all.

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