Blog: Standing at the Podium

By Grace Stratton

Grace Stratton is a law student with a passion for fashion. She explains how both industries have work to do to improve accessibility.

I’m in my second semester of Law school and in the holiday break I found my new Netflix obsession, 'Janet King.' It's a show about a female crown prosecutor. In one of the scenes, Janet was standing at the podium giving her opening statement and I thought to myself, “Oh, I’m going to have to work out a way to stand at that podium.” 

When I was deciding what I wanted to study my disability didn’t come into it. Well, it kind of did I suppose. I use a wheel chair so decided not to study at Victoria because it's on a hill. But I mean, my disability didn’t come into it because I didn’t consider it as something which would guide my choices for what to study.

If we spend time anticipating prejudice that we may not actually face, all that does is affect our internal dialogue and make it take on a negative light.

A part of me recognises that I might face obstacles in studying law. Especially because the industry, like most industries hasn’t been designed for people with access needs. 
It wasn’t just Netflix that made me think I may face judgement. It was also some of the things people have said and attitudes some people have had. 

It may just be a Netflix TV thing and I may not need to stand at a podium if I was in a real court, but I am aware that I may need to adapt a lot more than the average person aspiring to be a lawyer.  

A lot of us may be in the same boat. Knowing that we need to adapt at some time in the future, knowing that we may face prejudice in an industry that isn’t classically synonymous with a disabled person. 

Grace with Jess

The question I asked myself is, do I spend time anticipating the difficulties I may face, or do I just keep going and do the best I can? 

A part of what I have realised is that we can only tackle judgement or obstacle as they arise. And furthermore, if we spend time anticipating prejudice that we may not actually face, all that does is affect our internal dialogue and make it take on a negative light; and we deserve to have a positive light in our internal selves. Or at least a neutral one open to the possibility of positives. 

I don’t know for certain that I will be judged or face obstacles. I’m not in court yet. I only think it will happen, but I do know the obstacles in front of me, what they look like, and what they are because they’re happening now. So those are the ones I choose to think about now.

We have to set out to change things, that’s my most important lesson so far.

Oprah, the queen of life advice said that her definition of luck is opening herself up, preparing for the moment of opportunity. 

I believe that it is only by facing now and remaining neutral, or positive about what the future may be, that we’re able to really be productive and the best we can be; both for others and for ourselves. 

If you’re in the same boat maybe this will help you. Another thing I’ve learned is that we don’t know what the industry will be like in 2 minutes let alone 2 years. Things may be more advanced, inclusive and diverse. 

The only way that happens is by one person going out there and changing the way things are done. So, in a few years time I hope to sit at that podium and when I do it might be a new concept. But equally, as more lawyers like me come through the doors it'll change with us. 

We have to set out to change things, that’s my most important lesson so far in my studying journey (aside from learning law of course).

Speaking of changing things!

As well as studying law, Grace loves fashion and she is running a research survey. 
The intention is to look into the way technology and the fashion industry is currently serving people with access needs. She hopes to use it as a blueprint to help find a way forward, toward a more accessible fashion industry and its supporting technology. 

Access needs are anything which might make it harder to go about online shopping in the way it is currently designed. 

The survey focuses on your experiences with online shopping. It takes around 7-8 minutes to complete. 

So in the spirit of changing things, you can find the survey here.


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