I am a lover of coffee, and I appreciate good food, wine and conversation. I escape from the world with music, theatre and books. I hate clothes shopping, but could spend forever in specialty food stores. As a thirty-something, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I completed my bachelor of music, majoring in music therapy, at the University of Melbourne. The course was invaluable, but after graduating, my career path took me in a completely different direction.
I started my career as Leadership and Advocacy Development Officer at Women with Disabilities Victoria. This was where I first learned about the history of the disability rights movement and the social model of disability, which I had not come across growing up. It completely changed my perspective about how I engaged with the world as a person with a disability, and since then it has been at the heart of everything I do.
I took a break from the workforce to complete a postgraduate diploma of theology at Whitley College, which sparked an interest in advocating for inclusion of people with disabilities in faith communities. Following my studies, I experienced a period of unemployment, which is all too common for people with disabilities.
I eventually got back into the workforce as a casual audio transcriber. I then commenced a position as PA to the CEO of AccessibilityOz, where I also had opportunities to develop skills in web accessibility testing, and write content for the AccessibilityOz blog.
While I enjoyed the flexibility of working from home, I missed working with people. From 2017-29, I worked as a Tour Guide and Workshop Facilitator at Dialogue in the Dark, a social enterprise run through Guide Dogs Victoria, which aimed to change perceptions and educate visitors about the experience of blindness and low vision.
I’ve enjoyed all the opportunities I’ve been given throughout my career, but there is something to be said about maintaining a good work life balance, and flexibility around employment. After the closure of Dialogue in the Dark in 2019, I found myself back in the job hunting game. Playing never gets easier. Tired of trawling through job ads and feeling despondent, I decided to start my own business. I now work as a freelancer, focusing on digital accessibility consulting and workshop facilitation.
Growing up, my parents never wrapped me up in cotton wool because I was blind. I would get in trouble if I didn’t finish the chores I was asked to do, and was never allowed to play the blind card to try and get out of something. If there was something I couldn’t do, we would try to find a way around it. It didn’t matter if I had to do something a bit differently, as long as I got the job done. I’m grateful that my independence was encouraged from such a young age, as it’s helped me to be where I am today. Some people would call this inspirational, but I call it normal, and that’s how it should be. The challenges I have experienced throughout my life – being excluded by my peers at school, difficulty finding work, and difficulty accessing health services, just to name a few – are not created by my blindness itself, but by societal and attitudinal barriers. We need to remove these barriers if we want a world that is fully inclusive and accessible.
As a member of Speakers Bank, topics of interest include:
- My personal story
- Creating Inclusive Communities, both in the digital world and face to face
- Viewing the world through the lens of disability, including education, employment and health care
For more information about Lauren please contact Speakers Bank’s Project Officer on 03 9314 0988 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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