Guest Blog by Lucy Reynolds

16 October 2020

My name is Lucy Reynolds and I am a public speaker, academic researcher, writer and advocate for disability rights. I am passionate about changing perceptions of disability through sharing the insights and knowledge gained from my PhD research and first-hand through my own experiences. Image description: Black and white image of Lucy facing the camera and smiling. Lucy has short, dark, curly hair and she is wearing some dangle earrings. She has on a patterned blouse and a dark coloured cardigan. Behind her is a shelf with various potted plants on top.

I also have my own blog: ‘We Are All Disabled’ which examines the perceptions and challenges of disabled people and the wider community in the context of these unprecedented times. It is now becoming well established and has an extensive readership both in the UK and abroad (including the US, Australia and New Zealand).

In addition I am Vice Chair of Disability North and I am working with Disability Horizons as a writer and influencer.

I have Cerebral Palsy and employ Personal Assistants in order to live independently. I enjoy a very active and fulfilling life. However, like most disabled
people, I experience prejudice and marginalisation from ‘normal’ society.

My initial plan for this year was to line up a programme of conferences and forums to speak at and attend. Unfortunately, due to the COVID pandemic, all events were of course cancelled or postponed. However, advancements in technology and platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet have allowed many events to move online and virtual meetings and conferences are becoming increasingly popular and commonplace.

My first encounter with Difference North East was when they collaborated with several other organisations in the north to publish their Manifesto for a ‘Better Normal’.

I enjoyed attending their first virtual conference, Celebrating Difference. The conference was a great opportunity to share stories, poetry, and performance and to meet people from many different walks of life.

For me, as a disabled person, I enjoy attending virtual events and conferences because it gives me a sense of independence. I am able to attend on my own and don’t have the worry of accessibility issues. Having said that, I do miss the networking and camaraderie of attending events in person.

None of us know how long the current situation is going to last and whilst we have the opportunity to open up conferences and events to much wider and diverse audiences, now is the perfect time to embrace the equality and inclusion this can bring.