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Disability Awareness & Inclusion Series - Episode 1: Living with an amputation

During our filming for Disability Awareness & Inclusion Training, we found some time to sit down and speak with each of our actors to gain an understanding of their lives living with a disability. 

In Episode 1 of our Disability Awareness & Inclusion Series, we spoke with Holly Medić to learn all about her and her life with an amputation. Holly spoke honestly and shared some amazing insights into her work and school life and discussed what schools and workplaces can do to make an environment more inclusive and accessible for everyone.

You can check out Holly’s interview in the video below or you can keep reading our blog. 

How did you get your disability?

Whenever I’m asked that question, I like to run through with people - to begin with - all of the random reasons that I could have lost my leg. You know, like, shark attack. Things like that. But, actually, probably, the way I lost it is weirder. I was born with no lower leg bones and my foot upside down growing out of my knee. So I lost it when I was 12 months old, but was walking on a prosthetic leg by 18 months. I had a little straight leg to begin with. I’ve still got it, and it’s tiny tiny tiny.

What do you do for work?

I’m currently working as a bar manager, which often seems ridiculous because it’s such an active job. But I always seem to put myself in really active roles. I think it’s just to push myself a little bit more.

What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

Erm, I love the social aspect of it. Being able to be somewhere where you feel really comfortable, it feels like a second home. But I’ve come from like small communities - like villages. And everybody knows everybody so it’s just really nice to be able to go to work, but also see all the people you know. And have a good time with it. I’m always looking forward to going to work rather than dreading it. It’s what keeps me doing it.

What is your favourite thing to do in your spare time?

I go to a lot of gigs and festivals. I’m really arty, I make jewellery as well. I really like swimming. I’ve just got a lot of interests. Bit of a jack of all trades, master of none, with that.

Are you comfortable with the term “disability” or do you use another term?

I always get really excited when people off the bat say “differently-abled”. I think it’s such small changes in language that completely change people’s viewpoint on it from the beginning. “Disabled” seems like it’s just immediately got negative connotations, but “differently-abled” - which is what it is - is so much more fitting. I wouldn’t call myself disabled at all. In fact, for people who have severe disabilities, I think it’s a bit, I don’t know, wrong, to say that I’m disabled, because I’m not really, particularly.

Has living with your amputation taught you anything you otherwise wouldn’t have learned?

It took a while to get there, but probably patience. And, an understanding for other people’s world views. Just because somebody hasn't had, or has a very narrow-minded world view, doesn’t mean that they can’t change. And instead of just being annoyed at them off the bat, you should take the time to try and explain to them, and to try and change their mind, because all we can do is educate people on how to be better.

How do you find living and working with your amputation?

People ask me all the time if I would change it if I had the chance. And when I was younger I would probably have said yes, but now I wouldn’t. Not in a million years. It makes me who I am, and I’m really proud of the person it’s made me. It’s a lot to deal with. I think the hardest thing about it is people not understanding that disability fluctuates and changes. Something I can do one day may not be something I can do another day. And I need to tell myself that as well, because if I’m not able to do something I get immediately really cross with myself and really stressed, and that can really affect your mental health.

How did you find school life?

Oh I hated it! I absolutely hated it. Nobody really understood me or my disability. And I was a bit of a weird kid anyway, separate from my disability. It took me ages to really find my place in school, and I don’t even think, even at the end of school, that I really found my place. So I used to just not really go in, or misbehave or whatever. And I was quite mean looking back at it, to be honest with you, by the end of it. And I was quite, you know, rude. I have so many people come up to me now, from school that I see, and they apologise to me for how I was treated in school, and it’s like, I actually feel like I owe you an apology back. Because being treated differently doesn’t mean you have an excuse to be, what you might consider, to be a bully yourself, to be honest with you. And it’s not going to do anything to change people’s opinion of you positively. It’s only going to make it worse. So now just try and kill them with kindness, to be honest with you, whenever there’s anybody rude.

What can schools/workplaces do to make an environment more inclusive and accessible?

Listen. And ask, I think. You know, everybody’s disability is different. And just small touches to make sure children, and adults in the workplace, feel welcome. Like disabled toilets are often really scruffy because they are forgotten about by everybody. And it’s just nice to not feel like an afterthought. If somebody comes up to me and asks me what they can do to make me more comfortable, that immediately puts me on the right kind of footing - so to speak.

Are there any stereotypes about your disability that you’d like to change?

I mean the word “stereotype” just isn’t nice is it? When you think of the word “stereotype” it’s never really in a positive aspect, so... You shouldn’t talk to somebody with a pre-thought out idea of what they are from what you’ve heard and have no… and are quite ignorant to. You should take it from them. You should understand it from them. And go in there, meeting somebody, and have it just be a blank slate.

Has anyone ever misjudged your abilities because of your disability?

Yeah, I’d gone on holiday and climbed up to this cliff. And at the top people clapped me. It was so embarrassing. You wouldn’t do that to anybody else. It’s like, I understand, but it’s just really cringe-worthy, it’s just not what you want. And it’s a constant reminder… it’s like “oh yeah, I am different.”

What can others do to make society more inclusive?

Representation is really important, because we take in what we see. And most of what we see is through television, and I think that even now, it’s getting better. Since I started doing this, the parts that are offered are definitely more numerable. However, I think that for disability, too much attention is put on their disability. And there should be characters that just have disabilities, like a character that *just* has a hearing aid. Or a character that is blind, or a character with one leg, but the attention isn’t put on their disability. It shouldn’t always be the highlight, basically. Because, even still now, we have so many roles, but for so many of them they *want* you to be in a wheelchair because it’s a really explainable disability and it’s really obvious, and it’s what people know. But the only way that people will know any different is if we push it further and make it happen ourselves.

What has your disability inspired and enabled you to do?

I think when you have something different about you, you feel the need to not *just* level with your peers, it’s to try and push yourself further. You always want to do the most. It’s always made me really really want to try everything and see what I can do. And sometimes it’s like, wow this is an absolute fail, but because of that you’ve also got to take it all in your stride.

This video is part of our Disability Awareness & Inclusion Training. 

If you would like to know more about what you can do to create a more inclusive and accessible workplace or simply provide your staff with more knowledge about the equal opportunities those with disabilities should be given, then get started with a free no-obligation trial today.

Disability Awareness & Inclusion Training