[Description: Two people stand close together while sharing the weight of a trophy and smiling at the camera. They are standing in front of a backdrop with the words “Australian of the Year Awards” repeated across it. ]

Last night at a big fancy ceremony, in a room full of remarkable, passionate and supportive people, I was named the 2019 Queensland Young Australian of the year.

As an activist for disability, inclusion and universal design, Advocacy Manager for Starting With Julius, a non-profit for the increased representation of people with disability in advertising and CEO of Attitude Foundation, an organisation producing and promoting authentic and inclusive media; the work that I do is not always immediately tangible because it’s hard to quantify social change. …


[Image description: A stylish person using a cane is surrounded by a film crew.]

I’m never quite sure what to say when people ask me what I do. It’s a mouthful but…I’m an activist for disability inclusion and universal design.

Currently here in Australia and globally, we don’t include people with disability in all areas of life, especially in our marketing and media. There are a myriad of reasons why. All I care about is changing it.

My days are spent consulting a range of businesses and organisations on how to include people with disability. This line of work has landed me in some pretty unique places. I have assisted in planning international events…


[Image description: A model who uses a cane for mobility, walking down a runway. Credit: Michael Hansel]

There was a ringing in my ears, I couldn’t hold a single thought and my right hand could barely grip my cane. I couldn’t help but feel like my entire life had all lead me to this very moment, the moment I would step out onto an international runway and play a small role in changing the world.

There were millions of things that lead me to being involved in an inclusive runway but Bezgraniz Couture was the catalyst that got me to Los Angeles that October. Bezgraniz Couture is engaged in the creation of functional modern clothes and accessories…


[Image description: A young woman using a wheelchair to navigate a West Village street.]

In a yellow cab, somewhere between Queens and Manhattan, we sat in traffic. As we vagued out in the Queens-Midtown tunnel an advertisement played on the screen between us; A young person walked towards a public bathroom with their friends. When they got to the door of the women’s bathroom they paused, unsure of what to do next. Their friends reassured them and welcomed them into the bathroom. This advertisement was creating awareness around non-binary bathrooms. It shocked and excited me. This was inclusion at it’s best and on a screen in a cab in one of the biggest cities…


[Image description: A person looks over San Francisco on a foggy day. They are using a walking cane.]

Imagine sitting next to someone in a cafe, identifying that they are of a different cultural background to your own and not making a presumption based on stereotypes.

Imagine going to the gym and using a machine next to someone who has different mobility to your own and not assuming that their workout is more difficult than yours.

INCLUSION

The things we learn from disability inclusion through the lens of human rights are things that have the power to lead us to equality for all. There is a difference between recognising something and labelling it. …


[Image description: A panoramic picture of a beach in San Diego, it is a beautiful day. A person is walking along the path using their walking cane.]

Living with disability is tricky business. What I have learnt is that it’s also tricky for the non-disabled people in our society. It can be confronting and confusing for some to see a person functioning in the world in a way that is so different from the way they do. Unfortunately, it becomes the job of the person with disability to ensure that everyone else is comfortable.

“What’s that?” — Middle aged person pointing and touching my walking cane.

“I will pray for you.” — Elderly person puts their hands on my back without asking and prays. In an elevator.


[Image description: A person walking by a pond on a beautiful day in Copenhagen, Denmark. They are using a walking cane.]

Here’s what happened

On the 10th of April 2009 at around 8am I woke up with muscle soreness in my right quadricep. It was strange because I was a fit 19-year-old and I hadn’t done any exercise to warrant such tenderness in just one leg. At 10am I asked my boyfriend, Scott to rub my neck and shoulders. I was experiencing stabbing pains between my shoulder blades. The pain was enough to be annoying but not enough to worry.

It was Good Friday in my home town, a small beachy place on the East coast of Australia and on public holiday’s nothing is…


[Image description: A birds eye picture of a playground. The playground is accessible for children of all abilities.]

Universal design is the concept of designing buildings, products and environments to be inherently accessible and usable by all people. It’s a tricky task. In trying to fix a problem for one, another arises for others but it can be done and the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley, California is an impressive example.

The Ed Roberts Campus was universally designed to make life within it’s walls as easy as possible for everyone. The building was constructed in memory of the late Ed Roberts. Ed Roberts was a leader in disability rights in the US and internationally. …


[Image description: People in a dance studio, in pairs use each others bodies to create interesting shapes.]

Physically integrative dance is an activity in which everyone can translate movement into something their individual bodies can manage.

AXIS has been around since 1987 as a physically integrative dance company. The company tour the world but are based in Oakland, California. AXIS Dance Company’s dedication to inclusion and education is awesome. Part of the company member’s job is to perform and run classes at school’s and within the community.

I recently took a class with AXIS. The class consisted of myself and about 10 other disabled and non-disabled participants. Four company members joined the class and leant a hand…

Angel Dixon

I will challenge your perception of disability.

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