Blogger, Holly Tuke, “Life of a Blind Girl”

Holly stands with her hands by her side and is smiling, she is wearing a black top and multicoloured trousers. A cornfield and a cluster of trees can be seen in the backgroundHolly stood with her hands by her side and is smiling, she is wearing a black top and multicoloured trousers. A cornfield and a cluster of trees can be seen in the background

 Holly Tuke

“I love going to concerts – I probably went to way too many pre-pandemic times.  You’ll always find me listening to music. I’m a bit of a bookworm as well.”

The older I got, I became much more aware of the misconceptions surrounding disability. I wanted to find a way of tackling those misconceptions and play a small part in breaking down the barriers disabled people face on a regular basis. I enjoyed writing and at the time I discovered blogs, so I decided to give the whole ‘blogging’ thing a go myself. Following that, I also discovered disability advocates using their social media platforms to share their experiences and educate society. I didn’t have any disabled role models growing 

up, and these were people that I started to look up to. I started to use my own social media this way. And things went from there. 

My blog helps me to overcome barriers

It has made me so much more confident in talking about some of the more challenging topics surrounding disability, which has helped me become comfortable when facing barriers both online and offline. 

If ever I’m in doubt, my blog always reminds me of how far I’ve come, which sparks the fire inside of me to continue to jump over whatever hurdles I’m facing.

Using my blog as a platform to raise awareness and educate society gives me a ton of determination to do whatever I can do to break down barriers for the disabled community.

Knowing that my blog posts have helped another disabled person feel less alone is a feeling that I can’t quite put into words. 

Sharing my experiences and using my platforms in a positive way makes me feel empowered. As daunting as pressing that publish button can be at times, I’m always glad I’ve done it.

Goals I’ve achieved

I’m a person that works hard and strives to achieve my goals.

My time in education wasn’t without its challenges. I’m proud of the grades that I achieved despite the uphill battle it was. These grades were the steppingstone to what was next.

Following my time at school, I went onto university. Receiving my degree is something that I’m extremely proud of. After university, it was naturally time to enter the world of work. I’d done some work for a charity and extensive volunteering, so that I was fully prepared for the world of work. I knew that getting a job as a disabled person was going to be difficult, but perhaps I wasn’t fully prepared for how hard it was actually going to be.

Less than 6 months after finishing university, I was offered a job as an Assistive Technology Advisor – a role that I did for four years. I’m proud of the determination I showed whilst job searching, and the professional goals I achieved throughout my time in the role.

Most recently, I started working within the charity sector. When I think about my achievements, this would probably be at the top of the list.

It’s a job that I had my sights set on for years, but I thought it would just be a goal, rather than a reality. It’s certainly one of my proudest achievements.

Aside from professional goals and looking more from a personal perspective, when I was younger I had inner conflict in using my long cane. I always thought it made me stand out, when all I wanted to do was fit in. I made it my mission to change my attitudes towards my cane, and make my thought processes something positive rather than negative.

It took a long time, but I eventually started to see my cane as an extension of me which transformed everything for me.

My disability does not make me brave

To put it simply, I’m basically your average girl in her 20s who just happens to be blind. Honestly, I don’t think that makes me brave.

To be brave is to do something heroic. My disability doesn’t make me a hero. 

Being blind is my normal, it’s my reality, it’s my life. I don’t let my disability stop me from living the life I want to. I don’t think that makes me brave, it just makes me human.

I can understand why non-disabled people may see us as brave – they can only begin to imagine what it must be like. When they try to put themselves in my shoes, they’re filled with fear. This fear brings out their assumption of bravery. But I promise you being disabled is not like that. Being disabled is wonderful.

Technology 

I truly believe that technology can transform many aspects of our lives, in a good way of course. Technology plays a pivotal role in my life, I’d be lost without it.

Accessibility is a big factor. When something is accessible, it makes us feel included and valued. Disabled people should have the same access as everyone else. Accessibility has come a long way in recent years, but there’s still work to be done. 

Technology enables and empowers us. For example, I wouldn’t be able to use a computer, phone or tablet if it wasn’t for screen reading technology. My screen reader gives me the ability to do my job, my freelance writing and online activism work, keep in contact with family and friends, browse the internet and so much more. 

The fact that a lot of mainstream technology is accessible straight out of the box gives disabled people so much independence and freedom. We need more of this! There are always advances in technology, and things are being developed all the time, so who knows what’s in store. I’m excited to see what’s next in the world of technology.

Never be anyone but yourself. It sounds cheesy, but it’s something we all need to remember.

As disabled people, we can often feel the pressure to do whatever we can to fit in. We try so hard to prove ourselves and show that we are just like everyone else. We may even feel the need to hide certain aspects of our disability at times.

Over the years, I’ve learned to love my differences, the parts of the person I am that set me apart from everyone else. That includes my disability.

I’m proud of being disabled. We should be proud of who we are, and should never be anyone but ourselves.