By: Daniella Jade Lowe

‘Making a plan to improve your life’

‘When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening. That’s where your power is.’

Empowering oneself requires independence, and choosing the way you respond to each challenge you face in life. Displaying self-control in negative situations, is another way to access your inner power in order to empower yourself. Planning ahead is another way of maintaining control and empowering yourself, especially in the ‘disabling world.’ It helps you to stay in control of your life and your future.

The Disability Experiential Cycle

Everyone with a disability goes through, what is considered, the Disability Experiential Cycle. This cycle consists of the time span of your life, quality of life and well-being behaviour in the ‘disabling world’. During this cycle, we experience all sorts of feelings like denial, shock, blame, confusion, frustration and adjustment. While experiencing these feelings, there are things that we can do to improve our lives.

What is it like living with a disability or a long- term health condition?

You must be a problem solver, resourceful, determined and attentive to detail. You also need good communication skills, as well as empathy with the businesses and customers. We also must be creative, adaptable and flexible. Developing my own independence causes me to empower myself.

How is this relevant to the kind of work you want?

All advocates and Politicians should have these qualities. Journalists also need these skills.

Do you share customer characteristics then say how?

Yes. The customer characteristics that I share are:

  • I’m always connected
  • I can be opinionated
  • I’m value conscious
  • I trust
  • I seek authenticity
  • I require immediacy
  • I follow rituals

Within the Individual Model of Disability there is no cure, whereas, within the Social Model of Disability, there is a cure.

In relation to the Social Model of Disability, there is the ‘Disabling World’ which brings multiple discrimination. There are also issues of isolation, lack of financial independence, segregated or poor education, language, charity model, attitudes, fear, lack of inclusion, charging for services, lack of accessible transport, lack of accessible loop, steps, BSL interpreters, overprotective families, access to information, poor job prospects, negative media, poverty, stereotyping, ignorance, building design, prejudiced attitudes, charities’ offensive images of disabled people and housing.

In reference to the Individual Model, there’s also stereotyping. Most times when people mention disability, they always use the wheelchair symbol which can be demeaning and is misleading as not all disabilities are physical.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

I am an aspiring Politician and Disability Advocate.

What is it that limits your opportunities or holds you back?

I am a wheelchair using, unemployed, university graduate with very little work experience.

What do you want to do about this, what actions will make a difference?

I’m actively job-searching and improving my skills. I’ve elevated myself through having a blog, CV, Cover Letter, Reference Letter and good educational background.

What is in our power to change?

The power is in managing our well-being. We should always consider what we truly have to offer an employer. We have the power to choose who we connect with. There’s power in what we choose to learn and get better at. There’s also power in self-motivation, self-confidence and how resilient we are.

Identify Life and Work Aspirations

My Life goals include Journalism and Politics. Journalism and Politics are my passion. This is a short term life goal. Life skills are required such as good IT skills, good reading skills, good writing skills and good communication skills.

My Work goals include disability advocacy. Disability Advocacy is a long-term life goal that I have. I already have a university degree in BA History and Politics to help me achieve this goal. I could potentially complete a Masters Degree in Journalism or Social Work to help me accomplish my goal. I’ve also contemplated becoming a Disability Consultant.

Employment skills needed are interpersonal skills, communication skills, time-management, money-management.

What holds me back?

A Lack of opportunities. A Lack of work experience. A Lack of training. For some of us, discrimination. I need to improve my interview skills.

What limits my opportunities and choices?

Wheelchair accessibility and lack of work experience.

What are the barriers that get in my way?

Barriers that get in my way include Disability, lack of training and lack of work experience.

What can I do about the things that block me?

Find ways to overcome obstacles or improvise. Ask for help. Create a personal accountability network.

What should we have in a plan?

Identify the problem and come up with a solution. Then set deadlines. Create small, manageable, attainable and reachable tasks to meet each deadline. Encourage yourself along the way with personal declarations, quotes and affirmations. Create a personal inventory and set goals. Get a personal counsellor, work coach or therapist to help you.

What do we want in our Improvement Plan?

I need to work on self-confidence, work on developing resilience like managing stress. I can also work on marketing for jobs, job search skills and tactics, as well as, how to explain the gap in my CV, personal presence, real work experience, introductions with employers and more.

What are our top priorities for action?

Top priorities for action are Job-searching, career-mapping, blogging, interviews, and improving skills. Starting your own business is another plan of action that can be used as a source of income.

Future Collaborations

Now we have some great ideas to work on, how will we do it?

We can collaborate through group meetings, phone calls and emails.

How often should we do this?

This could be done either daily, annually, monthly, or quarterly.

Who do we want to involve?

I would involve employers. I’d involve my Work Coach. I would include support organisations like Reed in Partnership, Leeds Job-centre, and University Careers Office. I would include other Individuals. This could include family members and friends for accountability. I may also want to involve sponsors for additional financial support. I may even get some legal advice.

These are some of the ways that you can empower yourself especially if you have a disability. These are some of my recommendations that I would make to the ‘disabling world’ at large!

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About Daniella-Jade Lowe

Hello, My name is Daniella Jade Lowe. I am a PURSUN researcher and I am working on marketing myself as an Accessibility Consultant. Journalism and Politics are my passion. I have a BA degree in History and Politics. What type of disability do you have? At birth, I was diagnosed with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus which are neurological conditions. As a result, I use a wheelchair for mobility. What is disability to you? The only disability is a bad attitude. I have a disability. It doesn’t completely define me; it just enhances me in a way which differentiates and strengthens me. My disability should be viewed as an ability: to see the world in a different way. I don’t really like the term because sometimes it indirectly implies someone is dysfunctional or helpless. The most important thing is to never make assumptions. Someone with a disability can be very, physically, fit and strong, highly intelligent and articulate. What has been your experience from the time you remember till now? - positive and negative experiences. My life as a wheelchair user has been generally okay. Wheelchair Accessibility is frustrating. I was teased a little in school. Other than that, life is great. How do you cope with: -daily activities - your disability, do you have times when you are down - people's reactions towards you. I have carers, a Social worker, District Nurses, a GP, and extended family in this country. I am also in contact with a local disability charity in Yorkshire. I also have a friendly landlord. How do you keep yourself motivated? I must stay organised and practice good time management. I also prioritise my plans. What is your word or advice - to those with disabilities? - to the society Don’t let people put you in a box. You have a voice, use it. 10. Tell us about your platforms if you have any- Blog: The View from Where I Sit Facebook: Daniella Jade Lowe Instagram: @daniellajadelowe/@theviewfromwheresitblog Thank you!