Emma is #BecomingVisible
We have been chatting with our multi-talented member Emma. She runs her own YouTube channel called Reluctant Penguin Film Productions, she is an actress and a play-writer, as well as a passionate advocate for diversity, equality, and inclusion. Emma is #BecomingVisible!
What does becoming visible mean to you?
For me, it’s a party overcoming the fear of letting your own voice be heard. Disabled people are told to be quiet. There is something to be said that is uncomfortable, and sometimes you just have to say “ no, I am talking” – not being afraid to speak up.
Becoming visible to me also means that sometimes a unique idea is what the world needs, we need different people to have different ideas and opinions. Sometimes we need to have people we don’t agree with to have conversations and learn from each other. A unique and different point of view is what the world needs. Becoming visible means we can express our unique views and ideas, without being afraid of doing that.
Recently you have given a presentation at Napier University to learning disability nursing students – what did you tell them?
Yes, and it was really great to be there. Even with changing attitudes and new laws to combat discrimination – Society now has a strange view of us, people with disabilities.
We’re either brilliant or lazy – too good for this sinful world – scrougers – incompetent – inspirational for going about our day. Because these characterized versions of disabled people have become widely accepted, this has become a rationalization for the denial of opportunities, cuts to welfare and money and most damaging for our mental health – loneliness.
The loneliness with autism especially can be awful – there isn’t anyone who can join you on your planet. All they can do is just wave in their spaceship. Society has told us that we are an afterthought. There is no better way to dismantle someone’s personality and skills than isolation.
I didn’t receive help writing this by the way and nobody told me these things. I am very aware what those labels do to me and my quality of life. To be frank, it kind of sucks.
And what of Covid? Accessibility is accidental. Disabled people have been asking for online classes and it was always “it cannot be done”. But covid also highlighted the issue with medical practice and disability – as early as this month it was revealed that the “do not resuscitate” papers was back for people with learning disabilities.
Disability doesn’t always mean sickness nor does it mean the doctors can get away with dismissing our symptoms or ignoring care workers concerns as “maybe it’s just their behaviours”.
We need people to stick up for us as we continue to be ignored.
And that’s what it’s very important to me to tell you that simply taking this course and listening to us is such a big deal for me.
You must always remember that we are as human as you. Both good and bad. Complex. But we live in a world that challenges us too much and then turns and blames us for being the challengers. Regardless of the hard work we will give you, I implore you not to give up on us.
There will be days you will wonder if it’s worth the pay, if it’s worth your own health, but you must not forget that you will be working with a fellow human who may not be used to receiving care – the care and warmth from a fellow human being may be alien to them – but most importantly, they may not be used to having a friend.
Please give us patience and give us the care you would want yourself. Apologies for making you sit through this, again this is my own personal experience and opinions – when you meet one person with a disability, all you’ve done is met someone with a disability.
When you meet one person with an opinion, you have only met one person with an opinion.
You have also made a film, a documentary about autism and your experience of it – and you took it to the National autistic society? How was that?
I attempted to use neurodiverse and neurotypical experience and made a film about it – I interviewed me and my mum, talking about our experience, for me and for her. And yes, somehow NAS has given me the opportunity to share my film and I got some great feedback via my social channels.
Besides acting you do for Lung Ha Theatre Company, you have also recently started with a new venture – Murder mysteries, and they have been a great success among get2gether members – have you and Aaron got any more plans?
Well, all I do is make characters interesting, but it is Aaron who comes up with the stories. He actually started the whole murder mystery thing, we both work on it and think if the story will work and think about if that will also work for people. None of us had any experiences with this before – we tried to create a story that would be relatively easy or possible to follow, so it is fun as it can be, after all, we are talking about murders! We try to come up with characters that people can relate to, for example we had a character that had a missing arm, or a character with asthma. We do try to consciously make some fun facts, and think about how it is going to work on zoom, make it entertaining as possible, but it is not lacking in quality.
And yes, we have decided to open it up to new members to join our Murder Mystery Crew and try out improvising (acting) – we have an event coming up in March – so do join us.