One of the many great advantages of technology is that people who might otherwise find it hard to get around and interact in traditional workspaces, because they have a disability of some form or another, can build a successful business from home.

And knowing how determined some people can be in spite of (or partly because of?) the challenges life has thrown at them, we should expect that some of those businesses will be extremely successful.

Some of the people who have most inspired me in my life have in fact been people the rest of the world labels as “disabled”, or, in more politically correct speak, “people with a disability”. I think for instance of the time a colleague and I did a nation-wide study on disability and the arts. Among many lessons, I learnt the educative phrase “differently abled”. We met many inspiring people who had a great passion for life and had learned to do and achieve amazing things against amazing obstacles – many were inspiring simply in their getting on with life and being cheerful in the process. And I remember when we presented our report to the client  – the Australia Council for the Arts – I told the assembled councillors that after all we had heard and seen and learned, I was astonished that so many people with disabilities were so active, so determined not to be discouraged or blocked in pursuing their own art practice and/or as “consumers” of arts experiences.

The latest person to inspire me in this way is someone I “met” in an online network and did not actually know for a long time had a disability, specifically cerebral palsy. Glenda Watson Hyatt has now written her story, which I know will inspire many, not only people with disabilities but their families and friends, and especially, for those who have carers, the carers – I have observed that carers are sometimes more prone to get agitated than their “carees” when they are out and about, striking all the stupid obstacles we thoughtlessly or callously put in the way of our fellow-citizens who may not be as mobile or as agile as the rest of us.

Glenda has cerebral palsy. A lack of oxygen at birth meant she would not be able to walk, her hands would not function well and her speech
would be almost impossible to understand. Her parents were advised to institutionalize her. She wouldn’t amount to anything, the experts said.

Yet, this gutsy redhead proved them wrong. Glenda was integrated
into a regular classroom long before mainstream was a buzzword. She went on to earn the Canada Cord, the highest award in Girl Guides, and the Outstanding Junior Student Award. The girl who could not walk won a gold medal in horseback riding!

I’ve just heard from Glenda that her book, “I’ll Do It Myself” is about to arrive from the printers. I haven’t read the book, but I know from our online conversations it will be a page-turner. You can pre-order.

And check out Glenda’s blog – very informative, especially on web accessibility issues.

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