I didn’t always celebrate my disability.
In fact, even though I’d had 30 plus operations by the time I was 16, I was confident and happy and didn’t want to be part of the disabled community. Or even be recognised as disabled. I wanted to be ‘normal’.
Now, I know there is no such thing as ‘normal’ and I embrace my disability and love being part of the awesome disabled community.
I had huge confidence as a teenager thanks to my parents and private education. I was on a path where I wanted to be a psychologist. At 19, I met my ex-husband, we married when I was 20. My son was born and 3 weeks later, I turned 21. Wow, my life path changed. All ideas of working as a psychologist went on the back burner (although I always hoped I’d go back to study) as I settled down to become a wife and mother and do the very best for my little boy.
Fast forward to last year. I was 34, had separated from my husband, and was happier as a single mum to my teenage son.
I thought I’d finally figured it all out, and then another set of life events happened that completely changed my world.
My Dad had been battling cancer and passed away in March 2021, then, only three months later, my Nanny passed away quickly and unexpectedly.
I was born with Spina Bifida and hydrocephalus and my disability was a complete surprise to both my parents and the doctors. To say I’d always been around sickness and even death with spending so much time in hospital wasn’t an understatement, and I wasn’t scared of my own death. But losing my Dad and then Nanny – two of my biggest supporters and two of the people who made me who I am today – shook me to the core. I found myself deep in grief and, as a result, severely depressed. I knew I couldn’t go on like this; my Dad and Nanny would want better for me. I knew I had to pull myself out of the depression, even although I knew the grief would always be there, just changing over time.
And I had a little idea.
I thought it was a little idea. I’d spent my life as a disabled person and part of my life as a wheelchair user and hours and hours and hours (probably years) of my life educating the people and organisations (schools, higher education, events, travel businesses, even the cafes and restaurants I’d frequented) about accessibility…
What if I could use that experience to educate a wider group of people and businesses?
I took my idea to my cousin who also owned her own business. Just a little idea, right? She responded with an excited, “YES! BRILLIANT IDEA!” and wheeliegoodperth was born!
Now, a year and a bit into my business, has seen me give numerous Perth based businesses advice on how to improve their accessibility through my lived experience Accessibility Audit.
That little idea? It’s turned into something bigger than I could have ever imagined. wheeliegoodperth has taken on a persona and a life all of its own and now I find myself not only Amber, the single mum who knows what she wants from life and happiness but also Amber, the business owner at wheeliegoodperth.
As a bonus, I have somehow also become an ‘influencer’ where businesses big and small approach me and ask me to promote their product or brand. A big part of my business is also sharing my life as a disabled person and wheelchair user, so people can see although there are some differences between us all, we’re not that different at all.
But those differences? They can be beautiful.
I have unintentionally become a mentor and leader to many people within the disabled community; they see my experience and say, “Yes! I am the same!” This leadership of being a mentor is enjoyable for me. Not only am I making a difference to businesses through my Accessibility Audit at wheeliegoodperth I am showing disabled people the businesses that have access for them to enjoy when they are looking to go out and about in Perth.
I take my role as a mentor and leader as a great honour and will continue to keep helping businesses become more accessible and sharing my experiences as a disabled person and wheelchair user so other disabled people see they can enjoy life and do much more than they had ever imagined.
Amber is a person with a disability born with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus she created her business wheeliegoodperth from the ground up to promote accessibility and assist people with disabilities to find accessible inclusive businesses.
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The blog posts do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA), and blog posts are contributions made by women, girls or non-binary persons with disability about what leadership means to them. All possible care has been taken in the preparation of the information contained in this document. WWDA disclaims any liability for the accuracy and sufficiency of the information and under no circumstances shall be liable in negligence or otherwise in or arising out of the preparation or supply of any of the information aforesaid.