The Forgotten People

Picture is of Star Wars character, Yoda, taken from a comedy sketch about bad lipreading – He has apparently said – Poke me in the coconut.

I read this lovely little story on the Channel 7 News page. This young woman, a manager of a food section in Woolies, noticed that there was a couple that came in and used Auslan. The young manager took it upon herself to learn a bit of Auslan. She started with YouTube videos learning basic greetings. Eventually she did a course to become more proficient. She recalls how the faces of the Deaf couple lit up when she first signed to them. The young manager is determined to develop her skills so that she can converse easily with the couple. Her commitment to inclusion was seen as an INCREDIBLE ACT.

Australia has a fascination with Auslan. Ever since the Cyclone Marcia in 2015, it seems that Australia has become fascinated with Auslan. Mark Cave, who did the bulk of that interpreting back in 2015, got dubbed SIGN GUY. Cave, a CODA (Child of a Deaf Adult), was a bit taken aback by all of the attention. Watchers became fascinated with what they saw as his ANIMATED facial expressions and gestures. Said Cave at the time, “It’s been very surprising, extremely unexpected, particularly because there’s been interpreters used for previous natural disasters so I didn’t think it would cause as much of a stir as it has, It’s been good in a way because it’s raising awareness about the deaf community and about Auslan and the need for interpreters”

Cave is a brilliant interpreter. He was not the first to interpret disaster announcements but his particular style seemed to capture the watchers attention. Since that time, Auslan interpreters have become more common. They have become pseudo-media personalities. One in Perth was on TV dancing with Fat Cat and teaching the Premier Auslan. Mikey Webb was described as high profile and “Much Loved” when he went missing from Covid announcements for a period of time. This was owing to the fact that he had to isolate after having been a close contact.

Others have been subjected to being mocked and laughed at when the watcher doesn’t know what they are signing. We have all had to roll our eyes when yet another hearing person gasps in horror at the Auslan sign for available because they think its looks like the interpreter is giving them the bird.

Mostly, its been terrific. It has brought attention to the needs of the Deaf community, and their need to access information in their own language. I am all for it and celebrate it. Very often I am approached by people on the NDIS that have lost access to Auslan for their kids or for themselves. I am a fierce advocate for them. However, I do wonder about the “OTHERS”

I first became aware of the “OTHERS” twenty years ago. I was working at the NSW Deaf Society at the time. I attended a function that was both Auslan Interpreted and Oral Interpreted. The Oral interpreter was a lovely and genial man with a mop of white hair. English is my first language so I decided to watch him. I thought that I would probably understand more through him.

For those that may not know, an Oral Interpreter basically mouths the words in slightly exaggerated mouth movements for lipreaders. So, I watched this lovely old guy do his stuff. To my horror, I could not understand a word that he was saying. He appeared to have a very thick Scottish accent ( I am not joking.) I quickly gave up on him and focussed on the Auslan Interpreters. I looked around me and it seemed that even the Oral deaf in the room were also watching the Auslan interpreter. Possibly because the lip movements of the Auslan interpreter were infinitely more decipherable than than the Oral interpreter.

I don’t mean to mock him because he was a really nice fellow. (I know that sounds patronising too.) But it set me thinking. What happens to these deaf, hearing impaired, hard of hearing, who do not use Auslan ?(Choose your preferred term.) What happens when they don’t have access to an Auslan interpreter to lipread? This guy was the first, and still the only, Oral interpreter I had ever seen. How did these people access information when they attended events, like the one that I had just attended?

I need to reiterate here that I love Auslan. I support Auslan. I support Auslan interpreters. Indeed, Auslan interpreters have been one of the primary reasons I have been successful in my career. BUT, it is a truism to say that Auslan users are the minority. In fact, Signbank suggests that there are only 6500 Deaf people in Australia for whom Auslan is their preferred mode of communication.

Yet, despite this, for all the media coverage we see it is almost like Australia thinks that if you are deaf, therefore you must sign. Anecdotally, I can say this is true. In these Covid times, where everyone is wearing a mask, I have to often disclose that I am deaf. The number of people that then begin to finger spell or demonstrate their own rudimentary signing to me is quite staggering.

I mean, they don’t even know me but they choose to sign anyway. What if I did not sign? (and the majority of people who are deaf don’t). Well, then it is going to be embarrassment all around, isn’t it? I wonder if this is why many people who have a hearing loss and do not sign, choose to remain mum rather than subject themselves to this embarrassment.

I go back to my original example; the Woolworths manager and her INCREDIBLE ACT. What if she had noticed a deaf couple who didn’t sign, but nevertheless needed alternate communication? What would she have done?

If she had chosen to write on a note pad? If she had chosen to upload a voice to text app to her phone so that the deaf couple had access to text based communication? If she had set up at every counter and check-out, a tablet that has a voice to text app so that deaf people that didn’t sign had access to communication? If she had set up signage around the store telling people to disclose they are deaf ‘cos all staff have the app on their phone? If she had done all of this, and thus providing better access to the majority of deaf people, would she have got as much attention? I wonder. (Or would the store have told her to shut up because they didn’t want the expense?)

It bugs me too, that nearly all the focus on accessible theatre is Auslan. Again, I think it’s great. BUT, how many thousands of deaf people are missing out because so little theatre is captioned. It bugs me that this vast population are so silent. The Deaf community (Auslan users), if a politician forgets to use an interpreter at important announcements, they go ape-shit. And rightly so, but if something is not captioned, and it often isn’t, there is not a peep. (Deafness Forum Australia, I am looking at you!)

I fancy that the Oral interpreter I described is now out of a job. Technology and the advent of Live Remote Captioning has made the need for him almost obsolete. While the uptake of this technology has been wonderful, it gets virtually no publicity. I wonder if my favourite captioner, Roxanne, will ever be described as ZIPPY FINGERS, in the same sense of awe that Sign Guy is held. Probably not.

And who is promoting all the new solutions for the deaf people that don’t sign? Automatic captioning gets more accurate everyday. Android 12 allows phone calls, both outgoing and received, to be automatically captioned. IT IS AWESOMELY ACCURATE. Who is promoting this and where is the sense of awe and awareness that should be occurring surrounding the access that this technology is providing? Apart from my work, awareness campaigns seem non-existent. (Deafness Forum Australia, I am looking at you again.)

Meanwhile and thankfully, Auslan interpreters are virtually everywhere. They are rightly getting accolades and creating fantastic awareness. But the “OTHERS”, the forgotten deaf people; who is creating awareness of the access tools at their disposal? Who is lobbying to get society to implement and introduce these solutions? No one it seems! (Deafness Forum Australia, I am looking at YOU!!!)

NDIS!!! What Should ScoMo Do??

ScoMo welding without the safety mask

We in Australia are so lucky to have such a talented Prime Minister. The guy is a marvel!! He can do absolutely everything – He can weld –

ScoMo washing hair

Mind you he was advised after trying to weld that he was a much better hairdresser. By golly the man had even done that!

ScoMo cooking curry

But that is not all. You hungry? Well lets hope that ScoMo can visit you soon and cook you a delicious curry!!

ScoMo in a race car

But that’s not all!!! Old Scomo is a bit of a daredevil. I hear Mercedes are hot on his trail. Should he lose the next election they have a spot for him as their lead driver for next seasons Formula 1 championships.

ScoMo with flowers on his head and a Hawaiin shirt

Is there nothing that this man cant do? Some days he even finds time to be Prime Minister and announce how he is going to save the Antarctic. Quite possibly because he had a bad experience in Hawaii where things got a tad to hot!

Perhaps the last comment is just a tad too cynical. Yesterday ScoMo announced that his Government was providing $804 million in funding to expand Australia’s presence in the Antarctic. Apparently, there are “Others” there. Australia had an obligation to protect the Antarctic from the “Others” – Who might those “Others” be? I am betting it is those dastardly Chinese and Russians. There is a treaty down there and Australia, with its strong border policy and all, has to ensure the treaty is upheld and not abused by those rotten “Others”

The announcement was made down in Tasmania. You see, there are one or two votes that he might pick up there. It seems the rest of Australia has given up on him. But this funding is an “Investment”. It will create jobs, many hundreds of them. The jobs will also lead to the creation of supply chains and that will create more jobs.

Long range choppers will be purchased creating jobs in the chopper industry to build them and maintain them. Pilots and mechanics will be needed. What’s more, research will be expanded creating opportunities for scientist and graduates. It will be a bit of an economic boon for Tasmania. But only if Tasmanian’s vote the LNP back.

Cynicism aside, I think it’s great. I think that looking after the Antarctic should be a priority. Protecting the environment and the wildlife there is essential for the planets health. It’s is fantastic and I hope that if Labor get in they continue with it. It’s an investment that will lead to wonderful opportunities for many. So, well done the ScoMo on that!

BUT, and there is always a but, why is the Antarctic seen as an investment that creates opportunities but the NDIS is seen as a cost that is unsustainable? Why are people with a disability seen as a burden that is sending the country broke? Why, at every corner, are the LNP looking to cut the cost of the NDIS? Why is expenditure on disability seen as a cost and not an investment like expenditure on the Antarctic?

ScoMo talks about supply lines and how these supply lines create jobs and opportunities. What about supply lines for people with a disability? Consider this:

  1. Wheelchairs
  2. Hearing Aids
  3. Vehicle Modifications
  4. Home modifications
  5. Hygiene supplies
  6. Assistive technology
  7. Support workers
  8. Interpreters
  9. Therapists
  10. Local Area Coordinators
  11. The NDIA
  12. and so on and so on

Can you imagine how many jobs this is creating? Can you imagine how much stimulus is happening from NDIS expenditure as these people pay tax and spend their hard earnt money? Literally thousands upon thousands of people owe their jobs to people with a disability, including people in the NDIA and Local Area Coordinator Services.

I mean, hell, even by producing shit plans the NDIS is creating opportunities for the legal profession. Last year I hear that reviews and appeals of plans increased by 400%. This year appeals, alone, generated something like $55 million for the legal profession. This is a whopping increase on the $22 million spent last year.

Then, of course, there is a multiplier effect. By providing funding that allows people with a disability to better participate in society they access services. They go to theatre. They go to movies. They attend functions and events. They eat out in restaurants. They don’t do this by themselves. They do it with friends and family as well. Then there is the support and the technology that is creating thousands of jobs. This multiplier effect creates $52.4 billion in economic activity for Australia. That’s not bad for an outlay of $26 Billion is it? A 50% return on investment. I’ll take it. What cost is the NDIS? There doesn’t really appear to be one.

So, ScoMo! You are multi-talented. You can put your mind to almost anything. You can weld, cook, be a hairdresser and race cars. You can even find ways to save the Antarctic and create economic stimulus for Tasmania, all with one well timed $804 million investment. Clearly you are a clever clogs, but not clever enough to see the massive benefit that the NDIS provides for Australia. This is for both people with disability and ablebods alike.

For such a talented bloke I find it really hard to believe that you don’t get it. But I am sure that you can. Just put your mind to it like you do all those other things. YOU CAN DO IT!

And, If you cant, just go away and let the other mob have a go.

For more information on the economic benefits of the NDIS, click HERE

An Evolution of Complaining

Caption is of a man. His mouth is taped shut with the label – Complaining.

It has been my lot in life that my career has been based on complaining. As a disability advocate the whole concept of positive change for people with a disability in Australia is based on a complaints system. All our disability laws are based on submitting complaints to activate the law. Don’t complain, no change happens. That’s the status quo.

Back in 2015 I wrote an article about complaining and how it impacts on us all. The gist of it is that when you complain it wears you out. It causes stress and anxiety. The more you complain the more stress and anxiety you experience. If you complain about something and don’t get a resolution, complaining about it a second time increases the anxiety and stress. In the article I quoted research to back it up. I wont bore the reader with it today, but take my word for it, complaining is bad for your health. At 57 and 30 odd years of this gig, I can tell you that I am a bit tired.

I can recall my first act of complaining for change. I wrote a piece for the Parents of Hearing Impaired Children’s newsletter. I think I might have been about 19 at the time. I complained about teachers of the deaf at my old school. I said that teachers working with kids who used sign language should at least be able to understand the students that they were working with. I argued that they should be able to sign in a way that students understood them. (I had not yet heard the name Auslan at this stage.)

I recounted how my old art teacher had been given a temporary position as a teacher of the deaf. The art teacher could barely finger spell, let alone read back sign. I wrote that this was not on and that we needed better teachers of the deaf who knew what they were doing. This was the first time that I was summoned. I’ve been summoned many times since.

So my old Coordinator at the Centre for Hearing Impaired called me into his office. Accused me of disloyalty, talking rubbish and being counter productive. Basically told me if I could not be loyal to shut up.

The theme of under qualified teachers of the deaf has always been a bone of contention for me. Many years later I spoke with one of the senior lecturers at Melbourne University about teachers being shit at Auslan. (Auslan was a thing by this time.) He said that University had to produce teachers of the deaf that could work with such a wide range of students that all they could really do was offer two weeks Auslan and hope that if they worked with students who used Auslan they could build on what they had learnt.

He basically said that teachers of the deaf were expected to be a Jack and Jill of all trades and adjust to whoever they were employed to work with. He also said that if I ever mentioned his name he would deny that he said it until he was blue in the face. ( I have never publicly said his name and in respect of his honesty, never will.)

In 1989 I became the Employment Project Officer at the then Royal South Australian Deaf Society. I had to develop employment resources and also place Deaf people into employment. I dealt with the old SkillShare system, employers, Department of Social Security and Government bodies. In 1989 we didn’t have a DDA and access to services and support for people with a disability was the absolute pits. (The DDA is pretty useless anyway, but I have written about that many times.)

As you can imagine I was forever complaining to someone about lack of access. I called the Department of Social Security one day through an interpreter (No relay service yet and the interpreter was someone who worked at the Deaf society, not necessarily a qualified interpreter.) I was quite angry because they were refusing to allow an interpreter for an interview for the dole for one of my clients. I was very blunt back then, they hung up on me saying I was to call back when I was able to modify my tone.

One day I met an employer. We were trying to get someone a job as a plumber. He had to to an aptitude test that had English that would trouble a PhD student. I was trying to get a modified test for my client, who had literacy issues. The employer said this,

“Plumbing is not good for Deaf people. They dig holes. The holes are far apart. Workers yell out to each other from their holes. A Deaf person cant do that. Plumbers are a funny breed, I myself am an electrician and electricians are ok. But plumbers!!!!… I would try for a different job.”

My response to that was to stand up and say, “You just don’t really care, do you?” I remember the interpreter of the day ushering out the Deaf person from the room while the boss and I hammered it out. Of course the Deaf person didn’t get the job. My conduct earnt me a session with my manager who was surprisingly empathetic. Despite her empathy she reminded me that such an aggressive approach would not get me many wins. She was right, of course.

My battle with the University of South Australia to get interpreters is well documented in these pages. Suffice to say that after 6 years, countless support group meetings, loads of letters to the top dog, the involvement of the Education Minister and finally the introduction of the DDA – I got interpreters in my final year of University. (Thank you Lucy.) Only for my Social Work Lecturer to try and deny them based on his view that I couldn’t be a Social Worker and rely on interpreters. That was a whole other battle. No wonder this complaining gig wears us out.

Over the years I became more sophisticated. I learnt that there was away to complain and have impact. It’s a truism that it’s not what you know, but who you know. So I developed extensive networks within the sector. I took part in countless consultations. I got involved in a number of high powered Government committees. I even got paid for some of them and got flown business class.

I loved flying in business class in my shorts and Crocs. It’s true I tried to convince the Government to fly me economy because a flight that was around $150 economy could cost over $1000 business class. They would have none of it. I console myself by telling myself that I have provided, and still provide, countless hours of support and advocacy voluntarily.

But even so, the complaining is relentless. You repeat the same stories over and over again. Government Departments are beasts. You spend a year educating a bureaucrat to the point that they finally understand, then they leave. They are replaced by another clueless poppy that has come from the taxation department, with no clue about disability. And we start all over again.

I could outline the complaining I do on behalf of participants of the NDIS. I’ll just say that I really wouldn’t want to know how much the NDIA are paying for legal fees to try and reject VisuAlert for the seven people that I am assisting. (I heard last year that they spent $55 million on legal fees.) Repeating the same arguments to the same lawyer 7 times is frustrating, but someone’s got to do it. I fancy Sarah, the lawyer I see at the AAT hearings, feels as frustrated as I do at hearing the same arguments over and over again. I can see the pain in her eyes, I swear I can.

Yeah, I am a little tired. It has been 33 years. Somehow I still have the passion and the wherewithal to keep going. But last week I almost felt like packing it in when I heard that a high ranking Government official, responsible for accessible infrastructure, said something along the lines below:

” .. We don’t get a lot of complaints. That shows that things are really quite good. Really, compared to other states, we are leading the nation.”

Yeah right, buddy. Have you ever tried getting on and off one of those old trams when you are in need of a hip replacement? I can tell you first hand its hard, painful and embarrassing. And if you are in a wheelchair and wanting to get on at the tram stops in my area, its a long roll to the city. People are just tired of complaining for so little gain, so they stop! The official has no clue, absolutely no clue.

And that’s why we are tired. That’s why I now find myself reverting, increasingly, to the blunt no nonsense approach to advocacy I had in the early days of my career. I just tell it as it is and bugger the sensibilities of the clueless bureaucrats.

I’m just tired and it is time Australia caught up with comparable countries. I’m still here, cos as I said, someone’s got to do it and I still have a passion for a fair go. But yeah, retirement, BRING IT ON!!

An Open Letter to .. Everyone

Dear All

I’m sorry if I come across as a miserable bastard, I probably am. I am just struggling with how people talk about disability. I know most people are just trying to be decent folk. They are just trying to show how much they care and value other human beings. I know that when they rejoice at the achievements of a person with a disability, they really mean it. When Andy Murray told Dylan Alcott that they didn’t even care about his wheelchair, I know that he meant it as utmost praise. I know that when people say that they are inspired by Alcott, they really are. It’s just that often the language being used makes me cringe. I’ll try to explain.

I found myself talking to the TV screen this morning. I was watching the ABC news. I was not particularly coherent. My conversation with the TV screen went something like this:


“No, no”

No. no, no, no ….”


You see, there was a story about a blind boy attending a mainstream school. The boy himself was great. He spoke about how he was looking forward to school but hoping that he didn’t fall down stairs and walk into poles. He had completed orientation training at the school just so he would not do that. That’s his reality. Those are what one might call “Blind life skills.” I liked him straight away.

In reality the school were great too. Except they kept saying that the lad was a student just like everyone else. He is just the same. No different to all the other students. It is about there that I began my incoherent babble at the TV consisting of that one word, “NO!”.

You see the lad is not just like everyone else. He is blind, and that’s a good thing. It’s good because diversity is a powerful thing. Like with Andy Murray telling Alcott that the public didn’t care about his wheelchair, I find this counter productive. I would have loved for the school to come out and say something like this:

” … he is blind. That’s great. We love diversity at our school. We encourage people to recognise and accept diversity whether a person is Blind, deaf, black or LGBTQIA. All are accepted here and difference is a good thing. All are treated equally and equitably.”

It really is just a subtle shift in language. It’s language that recognises, accepts and encourages difference and diversity. It recognises that diversity is a good thing. It recognises that saying that a person is blind, gay or whatever is just part of that process. I might be overthinking this, but when someone says ” … he is just the same as everyone else.”, this tends to dismiss and deny the diversity.

You will note that I have also used the word ‘equitable‘. This is important because I have found that people have a strange interpretation of the word equal. None of us are equal really. We all face challenges of some kind. We are not all equal that we are academic geniuses. We are not all equal that we can run up stairs. We are not all equal that we can go into a class room with people and interact automatically. Equitable means that we recognise this and adjust our environment and behaviour to make that environment inclusive. This process of equitability starts with recognising diversity.

To be fair, the school showed that they understood this. They explained how they had changed their environment to make it more inclusive. They had placed braille signs on doors. They had redesigned the environment to make it safer. I imagine there were further adjustments that needed to be made to the learning environment to ensure our blind student could participate to the maximum. All of this happened because the school recognised the diverse needs of the student. This is great to see.

Now, I may be nit-picking, but I strongly believe we need a subtle shift in how we speak about diversity. We need to move away from thinking we are all the same. That we are no different to others. We need this shift to say, ” Yes, the person is necessarily different, we recognise this and we have changed our environment and behaviour to ensure that the person is included.” This recognises that society and the environment is the problem, and that is where the focus needs to be.

It is my firm belief that when we are comfortable talking about diversity in this way our society will be truly on its way to being fully inclusive. We have quite some way to go yet!

I’m Deaf Gary, thanks for listening!!

Everyone’s Inspiration

Photo is of Dylan Alcott, arms outstretched after winning a tournament
Dr George Taleporos. photo portrait in his wheelchair, looking directly at the camera

This week, disability has been everywhere. Dylan Alcott won Australian of the Year. A well deserved winner for many different reasons. Great tennis player, staunch activist, top bloke and a role model for everyone. An inspiration??? Alcott has it all ahead of him, in more ways than most of us will ever appreciate.

Not surprisingly, Alcott lost his last Grand Slam final. In his own words, he was fried. He had flown to Canberra for the awards. He would have had countless people calling him. Endless media interviews. It would surprise no one that his focus was elsewhere. He admitted he should have won the first set. When he lost it, all he could think was that he had to play two more sets. He knew that he might lose, but if he did, he wanted to make sure that he had fun. He had fun and he lost. At the end there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Including his own..

At the end of his game he received a text from his mate and tennis great Andy Murray. This is what Murray said, 

… I don’t know if I’ve articulated that well but you’re an absolute rock star and inspiration. Thanks for everything that you’ve done. …. Special. Like you’re just a part of it … they don’t even care you’re in a wheelchair.”

Don’t get me wrong, I fully get what Murray was trying to do. But that last part, .. they don’t even care you are in a wheelchair.”That triggered me, as I am sure it did many other people with a disability. Why should they care that Alcott is in a wheelchair? Well, because he is a champion tennis player. He is the GOAT! I mean fuck, they should care that he is in a wheelchair because he is the greatest and most skilled wheelchair tennis player, of all time. It is who he is! He said it himself. He is a proud, disabled man.

Then I wondered, those people in the stands crying – why were they crying? Were they crying because they would never see him play again? Or were they crying with him, at his sadness that his career was over? Or were they crying because they were inspired that wheelchair man had made good against all odds? Were they they thinking that Alcott was an anomaly; not sad, depressed and suffering like all those other people with a disability? The reality is that it was probably a combination of all of the above.

Disability is a bit of an enigma. Society has a way of wanting it hidden. They do this in lots of subtle ways. For example they make hearing aids as tiny as possible. They struggle to even say the word disability. They use revolting terms like ‘Differently Abled’, ’Sight challenged’, ‘People of Varying Abilities’ and so on. All these terms are designed to normalise disability so that we are all more like the non-disabled. “DON’T EVEN KNOW ITS THERE MATE” is the attitude as many non-disabled try to find ways to deal with their own discomfort. Take it from me, just say the word DISABLED! 

Then, there is perception. Alcott tells the world he is a proud, disabled man. That’s great. There are many proud disabled people. Disability is their identity. It is their life style. It is something that they declare loud and proud. Then there are people who are proud to be associated with the disability community, but don’t love their disability so much.

Dr George Taleporos, a disabled man, and in a post on Linkedin that was later published on many media platforms, had this to say:

“ While I recognise that a lot of the discrimination and injustices I face are societal, I hate the fact that I have a genetic condition that causes severe muscle wasting and that over the years it has slowly crippled me, to where the only movement I have remaining is a wriggle in my thumbs.

Does that make me less evolved in my disability journey? Does it mean that I am yet to reach my ultimate destiny of fully embracing and celebrating my disability? Some may presume so.”

Dr Taleporos is an accomplished, disabled man. He is an academic and has been at the forefront of disability activism for many years. He is a role model for people with a disability and non-disabled alike. He defines success. He is proud of his achievements and his standing in the disability community and the community at large, but he hates his disability. In his own words:

I don’t want sympathy. I want people to understand that we can’t all “love our disability”. For me, there’s really not a lot to love. I hate it and always will.

Hating my disability doesn’t mean that I hate my life. I love my life and I feel proud of what I have achieved and of the work that I do. I feel proud of and love the disability community that I belong to.”

So I wonder, perhaps with too much cynicism, just how do many non-disabled really feel? On the one hand you have Alcott, someone that they can relate to. He has a ready smile. He is handsome and a successful sports person. He is a media personality and loves a beer. They love him because he is everything that they aspire to be, despite his wheelchair. I add that last bit to see if it makes the reader jump. How many people out there actually think that?? Far too many for comfort, I would say.

On the other hand, you have Dr Taleporos. Probably even more successful than Alcott. A person that has created enormous change for disabled people in Australia. A successful academic. A person that has dedicated his life to the Disability community. A person that has helped to identify and break down societal barriers for disabled people. Respected, dedicated and talented,  but hates their disability.

And if Dr Taleporos was to walk down the street with Alcott. The Dr and his ability to wriggle his thumbs, Alcott with his looks, charm and beaming smile. What would be the perception of non-disabled people? What would really go on in their heads?

And here lies the challenge for Alcott as Australian of the Year. He has to represent all these shades of grey in the Disability community. He has to articulate all the challenges, all of the perceptions and all of the barriers. His job is to also present success and what that means for the different disabled people. For some, it is sport. For some, it is academic. For some, it is just being happy and being out here. For others, it is a a constant hard grind, where facing everyday is exhausting to a point that many would rather not. Alcott has to represent the needs and experiences of so many diverse disabled people in a realistic light, both positive and negative. I do not envy him.

I will leave you with the words of the brilliant Dr Taleporos,

So as we spend the next 12 months listening to Dylan and his inspiring, “feel-good” story, don’t forget there are many other stories that might not be quite as heartwarming but that represent the daily reality of disability in its many forms. We can’t all love our disability. We don’t have to.

But what we all need to do is work towards a society where accessibility and inclusion are front and centre of social policy so that there is more to love and less to hate about being disabled.”

To read more of Dr Taleporos views click Here