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How Rose Ayling-Ellis’ Appearance on Strictly Helped me Come to Terms With Being Deaf

When I was just seven years old, the unthinkable happened. I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive benign mass that was tearing its way through my eardrum: a cholesteatoma. Cholesteatoma affects just one in 100,00 – and is even rarer when it’s congenital (meaning you’re born with it, which my doctors are almost certain that I was). 

When I was 7 and a half, I had my first surgery – what would be the first of many – to remove the tumour. When I woke up, my hearing was worse than it was before. The mass had caused irreparable damage. We tried many forms of treatment, including further surgeries, before I was referred to the audiology department, where I was fitted with my first-ever hearing aid. 

Going deaf at a young age, when everyone in your family – and pretty much everyone you have ever known– are hearing is so hard. There is no one to look up to, no one to see that is also deaf that would show me that, while it would take a little while to come to terms with my deafness, I would be okay. That there was an amazing community and there was beauty within being deaf.  


Why Rose Ayling-Ellis’ Appearance on Strictly Come Dancing is Important to the Deaf and Disabled Community

As a dancer who is profoundly Deaf and a wheelchair user, I’ve been ecstatic over Rose Ayling-Ellis being the first Deaf contestant to take part on Strictly. Finally, the perfect opportunity to help dispel some of the stigmas towards Deaf people. For Deaf dancers, society’s assumptions and attitude are that we can’t dance if we can’t hear the music.

Deafness is a spectrum that means that two Deaf people – regardless of their audiograms – will experience music very differently. It will depend on the tones and frequencies that a person can access with their residual hearing, as well as any devices that the person uses, such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, or other technology.

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Tasty and Achievable Meals for Low Energy Days – Cookfulness by Ian Taverner

Cookfulness was kindly sent to The Unwritten to review, this has not influenced the views of the reviewer.

I feel I should start this review by saying I love cookbooks. My cookbook shelf is overflowing with books of all kinds. That said, as much as my crammed bookshelf declares my love of food and cooking, it doesn’t tell the whole story. 

I love to cook, but being disabled and neurodivergent, cooking a satisfying, nutritious, and tasty meal for me and my husband isn’t always the easiest thing to accomplish. So when I was asked to review Cookfulness, a book aimed at people with chronic pain, mobility issues, and mental health issues, it seemed like a match made in heaven.

The first thing I do with any new cookbook is sit down and eagerly flick through the recipes in anticipation of what I want to make first. I noticed was there are no pictures of the completed dishes, as someone who can find visualising things difficult, this is a bit of a shame. Likewise, there isn’t an index, which is a supremely useful feature to have when you’ve got a random ingredient and no idea what to make with it. 

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Navigating the Disabled World with Multiple Health Conditions

I am someone who has newly entered many spaces. I often lurk from the beginning, aware I don’t know anything. As a multiply-marginalised and multiply-disabled person, it has taken me a while to get any grip on who I am and how I experience the world.

Finding labels like nonbinary, queer, disabled, and neurodivergent have been a powerful tool for me in a society that avoids talking about these communities. However, it has been a rocky journey walking among the different sub-categories of the disabled community, as someone who embodies more than one. 

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How Type 1 Diabetes has Helped me to Love my Curves Again

TW: This article contains discussion of disordered eating and internalised fatphobia perpetuated by society.

Type 1 diabetes is a deeply misunderstood disease. It’s discussed purely in medical terms, with perfect formulae given to emulate the results a working pancreas would give, but discussing the impact it has on body image is taboo.   

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Why I Have Endometriosis but Don’t Identify as an ‘Endosis’ – How we can Make the Community More Inclusive

Nearly five years after my diagnosis, I was brutally reminded that endometriosis does not conform to the rules. 

“You see this?” My kind but completely unfazed surgeon pointed to the MRI images on display. 

They informed me that where we would usually see more defined spaces between the uterus the left ovary and colon, this wasn’t the case on my scan. My endometriosis had formed plaque that had bound them all together and the disease was now covering most of my sigmoid colon. 

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Disabled and Sexual: The Met Police Guidance on Women’s Safety is Useless to Disabled Women

TW:  This article discusses sexual violence, domestic abuse and abuse towards women and femmes, in particular disabled women and femmes. It also mentions police misconduct as well as the murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa. Please practice self-care. 

Disabled and Sexual is a monthly(-ish) column by Hannah Shewan Stevens which will explore all the challenges, comedy, and fun that disabled people experience as sexual beings, even while we are desexualised by a predominantly non-disabled society.

This month, the Metropolitan police’s misguided advice on women’s safety, reminded every woman and femme of the inescapable knowledge we live with daily: none of us are safe.

The Met advised anyone concerned about being approached by a lone male police officer to ring 999, “shout out to a passerby, run into a house or wave a bus down” for help. It also suggested quizzing the officer on their reasons for the stop. 

In the wake of the trial of Sarah Everard’s killer and the murder of Sabina Nessa, the police’s PR face has been an undeniable mess but for disabled folks, the latest advice felt particularly ignorant and exclusionary. 

A blind person cannot easily flag down a bus for help, a wheelchair user may not be able to run for their life and a non-verbal person is incapable of quizzing a police officer. 

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Why Being a Disabled Freelancer on Universal Credit is a Double-Edged Sword

I’ve been on a mixture of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit since I was 17 years old, due to my disability limiting my ability to work. Both are a benefit that can support people who are unable to work, or unable to work full-time hours.

I was never able to get a Saturday job like my friends due to my disabilities, nor attend university. So at a young age I quickly found myself with very few options – and a family unable to support me financially. 

At that age, I had no idea that accessible work options even existed, so I truly believed that I would never find a job that I could do.

Being able to sit here today and say I have found accessible employment, that I can do whilst receiving Universal Credit, a vital safety net, is amazing. But, it’s also a double-edged sword and not the life-changing moment I’d hoped it would be. 

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What Happens if You’re too Broken for the NHS?

By all accounts, a lot of the stigma that once existed around mental health has been eroded. Studies show that people’s knowledge of and attitude towards mental health issues has significantly improved in the past decade, with a Time to Change survey reporting that since 2007, 4.1 million people have improved attitudes towards mental health. So, these days, it is a lot easier to open up about your mental health.

But it’s not enough.

We’re sold this story of everything getting better if we only just speak up -– like the only thing holding us back from recovery is ourselves – but the reality is a lot more complicated than that. A lot of public discourse emphasises how so many people with mental health issues are ‘suffering in silence’ and that if they only reached out to get help, everything and everyone would be rosy. But that’s not the case.

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Environmental Activism is Ableist. Here’s What we Need to do About That

Intersectionality has been one of the buzzwords we have seen a lot of lately, especially when it comes to activism. Sometimes criticised as a product of the ‘woke brigade’, the idea is to be as inclusive of different demographics when it comes to taking up a cause. What is not always discussed, however, is how environmental activism lacks inclusion for disabled people – to the point of ableism. 

Cultural conversations have centred around the subject of banning disposable items, including plastic bags, straws and cotton buds. According to the BBC, the delay in the UK for banning single-use plastic straws and cotton buds was due to the pandemic – but points out that they are still available if disabled or for other medical needs.