Proud - By Heather Small

This is the story of Simon Stevens, a man with significant impairments who has defied many social norms and expectations to achieve more than anyone could ever imagine. Born in 1974, within an era when society had little expectations for what people with impairments could achieve if anything, Simon fought to be heard and be able to reach his full potential as a leading and experienced independent dysability consultant, trainer and social change agent. This became a lifelong mission for him as he battled against an oppressive society to achieve his goals and outcomes.


This is a story that tries to offer a multi-dimensional description of someone with a significant impairment, showing their ups and downs, strengths and weaknesses, achievements and flaws. It details my battles in mainstream education, my addictions, a suicide attempt, my achievements in secondlife, on television and with social media, and much more. It is the story of a complicated life and a life that has not been perfect. Simon may be a hero, but he is no angel, something he is happy to admit. This may be a unique story, but it is not a special one.


Simon invites the reader to delve into the deepest parts of his mind to show the many elements that makes him himself. He offers an insight that is rarely heard and it is a first-hand account of the liberation he, and many other people with impairments, have enjoyed over the last forty years, including the advancements in technology.


The story also introduces the term dysability as opposed to disability. Where disability means a lack of ability, dysability means a difficulty in ability, that can be overcome with appropriate changes, assistance and support. This is more in line with an advanced understanding of the social model and represents a new era of understanding. This is a term that Simon has used to shape his understanding of the world around him.


Finally, this is a story to be enjoyed and appreciated. It may not be a fine wine, but it is a piece of writing that offers a new taste in terms of how people with impairments can be perceived and represented as what remains the ever changing times we live in.