I got feedback on social media on my last column to the effect “Actually please can you start writing about Disabilities Matters and Issues in 2019?” and “Yes, I think we hear too much about the world Jonny lives in”.
It’s always a bitter pill to swallow, negative feedback on social media. It’s hard not to get defensive, so I have done some Reflection (with a very capital R these days). Here are my ‘learnings’ (ugh!).
"It is sometimes hard for disabled leaders to represent Disability in all of its shades."
When you write for a wide public audience, worthy does not win the day. Your writing has to, if not grip, at least, engage people in one way or another. Disability is a very personal thing. At the risk of stating the obvious, Disability is Diverse. It encompasses such a broad spectrum and to be honest it is sometimes hard for disabled leaders to represent Disability in all of its shades. One size does not fit all.
Another of my profound realisations is that Disability issues can sadly get incredibly repetitive year after year. Recently there was a call to arms for Disabled leaders to co-chair the 12th session of the COSP (don’t ask) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in June 2019 in New York. The three themes of this worthy group are; Technology, digitalisation and ICTs for the empowerment and inclusion of persons with disabilities, social inclusion and the right of the highest attainable standard of health, and inclusion of persons with disabilities in society through participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sports. Phew! Really - are these themes new? Do they rivet you dear reader to the page?
Are you still with me?
Lack of employment, access issues, discrimination not to mention mobility parking abuse – all these horrors and gremlins rear their heads from time to time – and I will attempt to make them as sexy as I can in this column. It is, however, little wonder that the Joe Public can soon tire from these gripes and travesties and turn their collective attention elsewhere. A dose of sugar, helps the bitter pill go down. The sugar at my disposal is the ability to create a little slapstick and a bit of domestic drama.
Disabled people do not have to be defined by their disabilities. There is life beyond and besides disability. We all have the same ups and downs, slings and arrows, good days and bad – we are all part of the Great Unwashed.
In my defence, I have written about disabled issues extensively. Gender pay equality versus disability unemployment, accessible tourism, the euthanasia bill, access at Waitangi, interpreters on Waitangi Day, Paralympians, Stephen Hawking etc. etc.
Are you still awake! What would you like to hear about? Disability Issues? The world of Jonny? Or perhaps a mixture of the two?
Jonny Wilkinson is the CEO of Tiaho Trust - Disability A Matter of Perception. A Whangarei based disability advocacy organisation.