My name is Lauren Hislop and I am a writer for Untapped. I have cerebral palsy and I am qualified in social research and i live in Newcastle. I have a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Social Science and Bachelor of Social Science Honours, and I am a disability activist.
I always claim my life is a tapestry infused by bright colours. However some people may not view my life in that way due to the fact I have a disability. I had never allowed my disability to be a hindrance. My disability has never deterred me from achieving my goals. I have achieved my goals due to the support of people who adhered to the notion that people with disabilities must be included in society. This has also assisted me in attaining my dreams.
When I began school I was placed in a unit for children with disabilities. I was an intelligent child, and modest as well. I was aware I was being segregated. I was put into a mainstream school in year four. This can be attributed to my mother’s sheer determination. I also had support from the staff and the wider community. This is when I felt the reality of inclusion. From year four onwards I was fully integrated in main stream school. I was living an ordinary life. My difference was not accentuated. I believe my inclusion into the school system assisted students without disability to embrace diversity.
On my own merit I was accepted into university. I attained three university degrees. My main desire in life was to be a productive member of society. I yearned to find employment. However this proved to be quite a challenge. I am a highly educated woman and the fact that I struggled to find a position, for a long period of time is extremely disheartening. I believe I am a diligent worker and have skills to offer. Unfortunately my attempts to find work were thwarted by externals factors which include discriminatory attitudes held by employers.
Employer’s have genuine concerns regarding hiring people with disabilities. These concerns include increased exposure to legal and financial risks. Employers are able to receive support such as wage subsidies when they employ people with disabilities. Some employers have misconceptions that people with disabilities have low rates of productivity. However, evidence contradicts this by demonstrating that people with disabilities are more likely to remain in the same position for a longer period of time than employees without disabilities. It is my aim and the objective of the untapped website to educate employers.
I have had positive work experiences. Some employers saw my potential and I thrived on feeling productive. I felt I was finally able to use my qualifications. I believe that some people feel that people with disabilities are only passive recipients of care. However we can make valued contributions to society.
Disability is only one small aspect of who I am. I am contented with other areas of my life as well. I have quite a rich life. I love reading, going to movies etc. I live with my partner. I enjoy spending time with him, my friends, and family. However without support, my life would be quite difficult to achieve.
People with disabilities are sometimes perceived as not capable of enjoying life and focus is often on the disability instead of ability. This is a fallacy. I believe that people need to be educated about people with disabilities. We all fear the unknown. People without disabilities need to be exposed to people with disabilities. We can all learn from another and enjoy a rich and diverse society.