On beginning her career Kirsty said, “I could see that things needed to change and I was getting more confident in terms of my sight loss and who I was and I started experiencing different types of discrimination…I was experiencing access refusals (with my guide dog) and going into buildings that weren’t accessible and all these new barriers I was facing….and instead of this becoming a negative I thought how can I turn this into a positive.”
Her early work at the RNIB began with the Future Insight project where she worked on evidence gathering for Dr Rachel Hewitt’s longitudinal report on post-school outcomes for visually impaired learners.
Kirsty went on to talk about the many different campaigns she’s worked on and how working with Transport for Wales has given her some of her greatest successes.
We also learned how Kirsty helps volunteers to campaign on local and personal issues and how this side of her work has given her the most satisfaction in her job.
“Knowing that you can make change happen and how to go about it and seeing the development over time as that person takes different opportunities, that’s my biggest reward … and getting people to speak out and share their experiences, the power of that.” Kirsty James.
We also heard from filmmaker, researcher and disabilities advocate Abi James-Miller who discussed the lack of representation in the media and how this has led her to challenge attitudes toward disabled people through her work.
“I got into the world of campaigning because I struggled to see myself represented in the world around me as a black disabled person and I really wanted to change that. It was a real personal journey of struggling with my own identity.” Abi James-Miller.
We want to thank both speakers for sharing their experiences of campaigning and helping to raise awareness of the barriers facing our community. You can listen to the recording of the event here and find Kirsty’s top tips below.
Watch LOOK Into… Driving for Change here.
Top Tips for working in campaigning.
- Working in campaigning is very rewarding but it can take years before you see results so you have to be patient.
- Find your passion and your voice, this will make you an activist.
- Having lived experience gives you an advantage when applying for campaigning or volunteering roles.
- Volunteering is a great way of getting into paid campaigning work and RNIB takes on lots of volunteers.
- Work placements can be a great stepping- stone into work.
- Volunteering with the RNIB – https://www.rnib.org.uk/volunteering/search-by-volunteer-category.
- Lost In Transition – The post-school experiences of young people with vision impairment; Executive Summary – https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/documents/research/public-affairs/lost-in-transition-briefing.pdf.
- The Lost In Transition full report can be found on the Vision Foundation web page – https://www.visionfoundation.org.uk/see-my-skills-report/.
The ‘LOOK Into…’ series is your opportunity to meet VI people doing amazing things!
At each session, we’ll be chatting to a different VI guest about their life and experiences, and asking the most important questions…questions asked by you!
We’ll be hosting the Q&A’s on Zoom and livestreaming to our YouTube channel, LookUKTV.
If you’d like to be part of the conversation with our guests, sign up for our newsletter via the home page, check out our website, or follow us on social media to be the first to hear about future events.