1 October 2015
Guest blogger: Rachael McMaster
As a 21 year old new paraplegic - a result of a spinal tumour I was thrown into my new reality as life as a person with a disability - a wheelchair user. With automatic expectations placed on my future, I was placed in a box where all people with a disability must reside.
This attitude is the biggest challenge a person with a disability will face, not a staircase or lack of accessible bathrooms, but more importantly not feeling like we belong, the wider community not knowing how to act, speak, and employ a person with a disability.
I am a career driven Chartered Accountant, I work full time and enjoy catching up with friends and family on weekends, I have dreams of travelling the world and starting a family one day. These are all of my own decisions, I have no interest in only participating in activities designed to segregate the disabled community, and I do not need any sympathy. Attitudes towards people with a disability have historically placed limitations on our capabilities, and that the only option for our future is as an athlete with a disability and being in and out of doctors appointments. (Not saying that I don't spend my fair share of time with doctors) but it does not define who I am.
I am almost 26 now, and have spent the last 5 years mastering my life as a T4 paraplegic and I will admit every day poses new challenges. But I have been fortunate enough to find an employer who embraces my disability, and recognises the uniqueness of my situation and that it does not inhibit how I perform my job.
My hope is that all people with a disability are able to follow their own dreams and not feel limited by what they think society can handle. One day we will live in a world where an accountant in a wheelchair does not turn heads or create a talking point, it is an accepted and normal occurrence.