Why the tide is turning and disabled voices are finally being heard

Written by Hannah Diviney, author, activist and client of CPA.

Hannah writes a regular column for CPA exploring her journey with cerebral palsy and activism – head here to check out previous blogs and hear Hannah on Cerebral Conversations podcast. 

Hi friends,

How is it the end of September already?! I swear I just put the finishing touches on my column about the wonder of doing a photoshoot for the Australian Women’s Weekly and now here I am, acknowledging the incredible effort of all of you who participated in STEPtember this year! I hope you’re all really proud of yourselves for completing the challenge. 10,000 steps a day is no mean feat and it’s not earned for a whole month, without some serious commitment to finding the fun and motivation in exercise and fitness, something I struggle with constantly.

I think what’s been most exciting for me though as an observer of STEPtember this year has been seeing the ads on TV, hearing them on the radio and watching with delight as this event has been so wholeheartedly embraced by Australians from all walks of life. It’s one of many signs I’m seeing that tells me we’re on the precipice of disabled voices being heard in ways advocates of the past could’ve only dreamed of. People are slowly starting to have conversations about disability, to recognise ableism and call it out when they see it and to understand the value of lived experience not to mention treating our representation on screen as more than a footnote or a box to tick. We still have mountains of progress to make but the tide does seem to be turning.

And honestly that just makes me even more excited for World CP Day next week! World CP Day is celebrated every October 6th and celebrates the approximately 17 million of us who live with Cerebral Palsy around the world. It feels like we’re just about in the right spot for the day to really matter and make an impact. The theme for this year is assistive technology, which if you don’t know, refers to any invention that has the ability to improve the lives, comfort, skills or independence of people with disabilities, in this case, CP.

For someone like me who obviously uses a wheelchair and has difficulty getting all four of my limbs to do what I want them to, that looks like having a lift in my house so I can move freely between all levels and access all areas including the pool, where I have a seated hoist that lowers me in and out, so my parents don’t have to lift me. But it can also be much simpler like having specialised cutlery with grooves in the handles so that my brain can learn the ‘correct’ finger placement making it easier for me to attempt and then succeed in cutting food on my own.

The possibilities are endless with assistive tech and the ways it could revolutionise the lives of disabled people. All you need is a brilliant idea, and that’s where the fun begins. If there’s anyone out there who needs some to get them started, I’ve got a few ideas. It’d be amazing if something was invented that could help me get out of my bed on my own for example or if there were in-built systems across wardrobes and cupboards that brought each item down so you could choose the one you wanted without causing an avalanche or getting hurt. Just some things for any inventors of the future reading this to mull over…

Stay safe out there and have fun celebrating come October 6th!

Hannah x