We conclude 'Chats with Elena Canty' series with audience questions. The questions range from fashion, accessibility, language around disability, advice on resilience, future travel plans and more. Elena holds nothing back and offers all of us plenty food for thought.
She reminds us - "We need to teach our kids that the world is diverse and it's not just all people that are like you it's everyone that looks different and that different is unique and different is beautiful."
Elena would like to "ask you to maybe challenge your mindset and your narrative and language around disability and people who are disabled just challenge your thinking around it."
This podcast series is brought to you by Irish Wheelchair Association- Ability Programme & co-sponsored by Equal Ireland.
Tweet us your comments @GoodDay_Cork or email us firstname.lastname@example.org
About Elena Canty:
Elena is a Communications Executive at Event Plan and VE Studio Cork. She is responsible for PR, Digital Marketing and Communications activities. Elena is a graduate of CIT now Munster Technology University where she obtained a Master of Arts in Public Relations with New Media, and a Bachelor of Business (Honours) in Business Administration. Elena has experience in event management, public relations, social media management, and digital marketing. In her spare time, Elena enjoys socialising with friends, going on shopping sprees and dining in style.
Podcast music by Justin Grounds.
Edited by Daniel Clancy
Produced & Published by Good Day Cork
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Host - Joanna Dukkipati:
Hi, you're listening to ‘Chats with Elena Canty’ a four-part podcast series
brought to you by the Irish Wheelchair Association Ability Programme
and co-sponsored by EQUAL Ireland.
Every episode in this series is an opportunity to get to know Elena Canty.
Elena’s personal experiences,
help us be who we can be.
Host - Joanna Dukkipati:
Hi Elena, how are you?
How are you keeping?
I am keeping good.
So this episode is going to be fantastic
because we've got a whole lot of questions from the people of Cork.
So, are you excited?
Let's get crackin’.
Now we all love your fashion style.
And you know, I'm wondering along with others as well-
Is it difficult to get clothes that fit you perfectly?
A hundred percent, a thousand percent actually.
This is something that I've thought about throughout my whole life,
but it's actually starting to
kind of creep up into the
fashion industry a lot more recently.
People in the disability community are starting to challenge
the fashion industry a lot more now.
Things like jumpers, jackets, jeans or trousers -
I would always have to go to the
dressmaker to get them altered because I am petite in stature.
I'm only three foot, nine inches in height.
So you can imagine, most trousers and jeans are for the five foot average person.
They need to make trousers and jeans fitting for everyone.
I don't go to the
children's section anymore
because my upper body
is perfect for the adult size.
I would be anywhere between a size
10 and a size 12 in adult size, thankfully.
So I have filled out in that sense - over the years after teenage years,
but in terms of my length - yeah.
Absolutely. I always have to go to a dressmaker on Shandon Street
to get alterations done and but I would have those items for years then.
Because I wear them but I look after them well.
But it would be nice to someday go in to a store on High Street or in a boutique and you
know find clothing that is for short stature people
and you know for petite size in length. Fashion for disability community
should be integral part of the everyday fashion style. They need to
have options for everyone.
It's about inclusivity.
One of the challenges that you also mentioned, we touched on it briefly -
accessibility into spaces within Cork..
around the world. The question is: How good is Cork at the moment?
And also would you advocate that ramps should be a universal feature in architecture"
To answer about the ramps -
a thousand percent.
They should be integral part of all
infrastructure and in all buildings in Cork,
Ireland and by extension globally and it's so important that we all,
you know, are able to access anything and everything that we need to access.
So yeah to answer your question about Cork being accessible.
I would say it's nearly okay, it could be better. It's not great.
What other people might view Cork as
accessible. They're viewing it from their eyes and my eyes see different.
It could definitely be better -
Cork city and county, Ireland by extension
that you know, it does need to be better.
It could be a lot better.
I would also like to remind people that the reality is that,
the majority of people that are disabled around the world have
not.. were not born with the disability.
So like the reality is you could
acquire a disability. The majority of people will
acquire the disability at least
temporary or permanent.
So we need to ensure that accessibility is for all because yes,
I was born with my disability.
But you know Jane Doe or John Doe that are listening to this today
could end up with a disability in the future.
There's no point in sugarcoating it .
That is the harsh reality so they will need to have places accessible
for them too. People who are
architectures need to be mindful and considerate - that okay,
it might suit them to put
a step into a building
or a step up to a ramp but they might end up in a wheelchair in their lifetime.
They'll need to think forward. They need to be forward thinkers .
They need to think strategically - making
every building, every infrastructure
accessible for all will just suit everyone and they’ll be inclusivity that way then.
How can non-wheelchair users improve language around wheelchair users?
The person who sent the question also pointed out:
I think Irish people can be so afraid of saying the wrong thing.
They just avoid conversation at all. How can we improve the language?
Well, first of all, I suppose we could just talk about the word disability
and that it's not a bad word.
To say that somebody has a disability..lives with a disability that's okay to acknowledge
because it is, that is the reality but I suppose language in particular -
So there's been plenty of language over the years that I have been referred as
and so rudely obviously, but not so much now
but there are some words that I dislike
or disdain a thousand percent because I
am not defined by those words and
they're very archaic.
And you know, I find them very
profanity type of crude words they describe a negative situation,
but people with disabilities
you know, it's a very positive thing.
Once you're surrounded by good people.
You know, it doesn't it's not a bad thing,
you know, so words like ‘handicap’ I think that's a word used in sports,
but I don't know why people
decided to use it for disabilities, anyway.
Another word would be ‘retard’
and I think that's actually a French word
but people use it in disability context.
These are the kind of words that I hate. Another word as well was ‘invalid’.
I think that's more kind of an archaic word.
I don't really hear of it
that much anymore.
That wouldn't be a nice word either.
Another Irish word would be ‘special needs’.
I disdain it completely.
My needs are not special they’re human.
I’ve a fundamental right to access all the needs that I need.
And you know, everyone at least
once in a lifetime will need to access
needs that they didn't need before so it shouldn't be made special.
I'm not special. I'm a human.
Just say disabled.
Just say the word ‘disabled’. That's the word you need to use.
You don't need to use ‘special needs’. You don't need to use ‘retard’ or ‘handicap’.
Like yeah, they're dirty words,
but ‘disability’ and ‘disabled’ are positive words.
Would it be right to call myself a
non wheelchair user? Would that
be the right way?
Well, I would say that
you’re ‘non disabled’ because
there are people with disabilities around the world who don't use a wheelchair.
So I wouldn't say ‘able-bodied’,
I wouldn't say ‘non wheelchair user’.
You say ‘non-disabled’ -
Yeah and fingers crossed.
Yes. Yes. Yes touch wood.
Yes. Absolutely. Yeah, and what makes it uncomfortable is
when they use the archaic words.
That don't describe the person fully.
Just saying it like it is - disable or non-disabled - is totally fine.
And but don't use the other words.
Yes. I've got it got it.
What advice would you give to a young
person facing a challenge
such as a disability? How can they stay resilient in difficult moments?
I think first of all anyway,
you strip it all back to first of all just be kind to themselves.
No one understands what
they're going through
because if they're born with the disability chances are they are the odd one out.
The people around them in their families, in their school
or college the majority of them all non-disabled, majority of people are, especially if you're born with the disability, so no one understands
how you truly feel so, just to be kind to yourself
allow the feelings that you are feeling to be welcomed and just,
don't hide from those feelings.
Another thing that I would advise is to
never give up no matter what
people around you say. “You're well able” as the Cork saying goes.
Once you put yourself for things that you're interested in
and focus on things that you're really good at,
you don't know where your life will take you.
You keep ploughing on and
on a day-to-day basis in the meantime focus on things that you love and enjoy because that will always boost your mood and help you get
through challenging times and to
overcome them. That's really the most
important thing - just take it day by day.
Now, obviously Elena cannot
be in every conversation
around the whole world and neither can other people with disabilities
be there to correct us
in our conversations, right?
So what books or podcasts do you think we should listen to?
Well, ‘DisruptAbility Podcast’ by
which is hosted by a friend of mine actually, Claire Kennelly.
But in terms of books, I would have to go
back to Adam King. The ‘Pure Cork’ legend
as first seen in The Late Late Toy Show -
his [Adam’s] dad, David King wrote
a book for children. It's actually called
‘Adventures with a Difference’.
It's all about adventures and it basically
promotes a positive conversation
around disability, but for children in mind.
Because I think we need to start from an early age .. from toddler age -
As soon as a child starts reading with the parents before bedtime,
these are the kind of books that need to be read because the world is so diverse.
We need to teach our
kids that the world is diverse
and it's not just all people that are like you it's everyone that looks different
and that different is unique
and different is beautiful.
Elena so many people have asked you so many questions.
Do you want to throw a few questions
back into Cork?
Oh goodness. I have been put on the spot here.
I suppose I would ask you to maybe challenge your mindset
and your narrative and language
around disability and people who are disabled just challenge your thinking around it.
Nowadays, there's so much
services available. There's so much supports available that people with disabilities,
they can thrive in life and do everything that the hearts desire in life.
So long as they have supports and people that care and love for them,
as long as they’re surrounded by great people
and that they're determined, there's no end to what they can achieve.
So I would just ask the people of Cork to just change your thinking around disability.
That is really a great note to call this wonderful podcast series.
It's ended - it’s the finale. Thank you Irish Wheelchair Association,
and thank you to also EQUAL Ireland for making this possible,
And Thank you also.
Aww thank you.
Thank you so much Elena. Muaah.
I'll see you around dear.