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Personal insight into experiences of disability

Personal insight into experiences of disability

Life as a disabled person can be challenging but in the words of those who experience these challenges, 'life is for living'.

The Office for Disability Issues has published Life is for Living 2005, with 25 stories from disabled people and families talking about their experiences of disability.

"We want to show that despite the many challenges and barriers disabled people and their families face, many have a strong will to live full lives," Director of the Office for Disability Issues, Dr Jan Scown says.

"The publication title, Life is for Living, comes from one of the contributors. Jean's story illustrates many of the ongoing challenges disabled people can face, with the most critical barrier being negative attitudes from some people."

As a six-year-old in 1938, Jean got scarlet fever which affected her bones. Later, she lost a lot of hearing and spent a lot of time away from her family in hospital having surgery.

"My parents lost count of my surgeries, but it was at least 50 before I was aged 35," Jean said. "I found out later that my family were told I would not live to 20, and that I would never marry and never have children.

"Well, in 1963 I got married and later had a child. I was a mum to one child of my own and to three grown-up step-children and now I'm a grand-mum! I value my independence and just want to retain my independence and my ability to participate in my community. I like to get out and about as I believe life is for living," Jean said.

"We hope Life is for Living will be a useful resource for anyone who wants to learn more about the impact of disability," Dr Scown says. "The stories clearly identify the ups and downs of life, and give an insight into why ongoing work is needed by government and individuals to remove barriers to disabled people's participation in society."

Life is for Living 2005 can be ordered via the Office website (, by email:, or fax: 04 918 0066. The full text is also online.


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