“A truly inclusive world to me would be a fully accessible world”

Graphic shows three young people. One has red hair and is sitting in a wheelchair, another is wearing a purple t-shirt and glasses and has a guide dog and the third is wearing a t-shirt printed with flowers and is using a mobility aid. The background is pink and The Mix logo is in a heart shape

Interview with disability activist, Lauren Perry

Lauren Perry is a 22 year old Disabled graduate living in Brighton. She runs a disability group, advocates for disability rights and strives to live in a more accessible world. You can find out more about her here.

Shannon, who is one of our volunteers, spoke to Lauren to find out more about her work and her insights on how to make the world better for people with disabilities. A massive thanks to Lauren and Shannon for this wonderful interview!

What does a truly inclusive world look like to you? 

A truly inclusive world would be a world where we as wheelchair users don’t have to sit at the bottom of steps waiting outside shops, or get let in through back entrances. A truly inclusive world to me would be a fully accessible world. It would be inclusive of people regardless of race or gender, disability or appearance.

If you could change anything about the world, what would it be and why? 

For me strangely it’d be to do with money. When people say they’d love to win the lottery, often they’re thinking about going on amazing holidays and buying designer clothes and a nice mansion, and sure, that would be nice. But for me, I’d just use the money to not ‘feel as disabled’; I’d spend the money for good care support, wheelchairs, mobility aids, housing adaptations, therapy, physiotherapy, hydrotherapy etc.

What do you celebrate about being a part of the disabled community? 

Often disabled people are seen in a negative light, or as less valued members of society. I’ve met some amazing disabled people both online and in person who have taught me so much about myself as well as the world. They have educated me, have comforted me, made me laugh, cry and everything in between. We’re bloomin’ cool and often under-represented as a marginalised group in society. I’ve learnt so much about being disabled from this community, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Which things do you think non-disabled people should be doing to make the world more accessible? 

There’s lots of things non-disabled people can do to help support disabled people that are free and simple.

  • If you go into a shop or restaurant and notice they have a step to get in, ask if they have a ramp, if they don’t, politely remind them that it’s the law.
  • Caption all your video content online.
  • Add image descriptions to your photos.
  • Think about us when making your plans.
  • Learn basic Sign Language – even the alphabet could help!
  • Know not all disabilities are visible.
  • Don’t be weird, treat us like people. We’re just like you!

Can you recommend any books, films or podcasts, that given a good insight into understanding the experience of being a young disabled person? 

  • My blog.
  •  InvisiYouth do a good podcast.
  • The late Stella Young did a TEDX talk in 2014 called, ‘I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much.’
  • Pippa from @lifeofpippa has written a book about university.
  • TV shows – Isaac in Sex Education had the same wheelchair as me and that was the first time I ever really experienced disabled representation on TV – I did a little dance and pointed at the screen like, ‘omg, look he has my chair’, when I saw it.

What lessons have you learned about yourself since you were young? 

These are less lessons I’ve learnt about myself and more just lessons I’ve sort of learnt I guess. Not everyone is the same as you, so not everyone will handle scenarios in the same way. Everything is relative, no one has walked a day in your shoes, but similarly you have not walked a day in theirs. Having your own opinions is cool, being agreeable isn’t.

Standing up for yourself gets you far in life. Confidence is attractive. I make myself laugh and that’s okay! If I don’t have energy to do something I won’t do it – my energy levels are limited due to my disability and I have to spend my energy wisely. My time is my time; it’s good to have time to yourself. If you don’t want to do something, you don’t have do it (within reason). Get to know your likes and dislikes.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our young readers? 

There are so many people like you out there, you’ve just got to find them (1 in 5 people have a disability). Pop me a message any time if you need to chat 🙂

What does allyship look like to you? 

To me allyship is where someone who is not in a certain minority group actively supports someone who is. By doing so, they may go out of their way to educate themselves on struggles that members of the marginalised group face and help raise awareness to educate others to make change.

If you’re looking for support and information on issues relating to disability

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By Holly Turner

Updated on 24-Nov-2022

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