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“A Little Less Invisible” by John Francis

I’ve got two arms and two legs. They work just fine. At least, at this moment.

I have a brain that works overtime, in a good way. At least, at this moment.

And inside the workings of my body, the same. All good. At this moment. As far as I know.

This situation of course could change. Just like that. As it did for John D, when a tree fell on him, or Jane through falling off a horse. Or Karen, when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

For others, like John R who has non-verbal cerebral palsy, they’ve known no other life, from the moment they were born.

I’m involved in this book project as one of the writers assisting with the story-telling. Many of the contributors need no help, and are writing their own stories, completely. Others need a bit of help along the way.

This is important, because the intention is for the book to not just be a window into the lives of a diverse group of individuals, but also highly readable.

It’s bizarre really. According to the Australian Network on Disability over 4 million people, that’s one in every five, have some form of disability. (As the chance of a disability increases with age, two out of every five of these are aged over 65).

So where are all these people? How come we don’t see them every day, out in the community?

Now of course, some don’t get out very much. But the bigger answer is, people living with some sort of disability ARE out in the community. They’re just not ‘visible’ to us. Because when it comes to an awareness of those around us who may look/act/seem a little different to the general masses, we are all ‘blind’. It’s easier not to ‘see’, not to register their presence. It’s unsettling; it’s a bit embarrassing; let’s not think about it; let’s not get involved.

And so, the individual we are not ‘seeing’ or acknowledging, feels a little more diminished.

Hence the importance of our book project. Through glimpsing a little of the lives/loves/fears/frustrations/joys/aspirations of our 25+ contributors, readers will understand more, and the subjects of our book will hopefully feel the warmth of being brought just a bit more into the light.

However if you want to refer to any of our stories as ‘inspirational’, please do so quietly. VERY quietly. That word is like a red flag to a bull, for many of those involved with this project. ‘Inspirational porn’ is something they do not wish to have associated with their lives.

Neither though, is this a ‘poor me’ exercise. Far from it. Living with a disability is not something one chooses. It can be a hard and frustrating road.  But on every journey there are shafts of brightness that do shine through.

We look forward to taking our readers along 25+ paths, each full of the shade and the light of individuals’ lives.

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