The importance of having your voice

People who can speak take for granted their voice.

People with disabilities “find themselves socially, culturally and politically isolated. They are ignored, invisible and silent. They struggle to be noticed, they struggle to be seen, they struggle to have their voices heard.” (Extract from page 1 of Shut Out: The experiences of people with disabilities and their families in Australia, 2009.)

I am one of these people. I am non-verbal.

Would you listen to me? Probably not. You would see my disability and ignore me.

Many people think I am cute and fail to see I am a thinking person.

It is frustrating.

How would you feel?

Imagine not being able to talk.

It is a strange experience for you.

You type your answers and requests, but people ignore you.

Voice is more than speech. It is expressing opinions and being validated by people.

Without voice, I am an empty vessel. My identity is stunted.

Listen and you will see that I have a voice and I demand to be heard.

Voice is my essence.

Voice is my call.

Listen. Listen. Listen.

Voice is important. (Jackie)

Self advocacy

Self advocacy allows me to be an independent adult. Self advocacy gives me power over my own life. I become a person who has choices over my own destiny. I become a man rather than simply someone’s child needing babysitting. I get to live the life I wish to lead, it’s my choice, as it should be, because it’s my life. I choose my own identity as a writer, as a friend, as a son, as a man, because I’ve been allowed to because I advocate for myself. I have power to determine the type of man I want to be… strong, loving, passionate, wicked. (Adrian)

Welcome

Equality for all is the brainchild of Adrian Kooistra and Jackie Irwin. We are passionate about advocating for people with disabilities and other minority groups. Children and adults with disabilities are inhibited by our able-bodied society. There needs to be awareness raising about this. New knowledge is revealed when people are open minded. Trust me, this is a difficult journey you are embarking on. ‘White’, able-bodied privilege is a hidden element of our society so I had difficulties acknowledging its existence.