Disability in Media: Meet Amy Selman and her experience of social enterprise Ability Today

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‘Ability’, was a perfectly normal, normative noun in the first half of my life. I was blessed to have the ability to choose what I wanted to read, study and work in. Truthfully, I was not as* able in on the sports field! However, my body worked, and my mind was curious. 

Amy Selman

I pushed myself very hard. At the age of 37, this changed, as I became more and more fatigued and fragile, fighting flames of pain, and then partially paralysed with autoimmune disease. I started a new relationship with ability – a concerted effort every day to recover, and an acceptance of myself as a disabled woman.  

Fortunate enough to have my family nurturing me, I now live back in the Cheshire countryside, and seem to have more in my diary than before (although spa days have been replaced with neuro-physio, and post-work drinks with gardening club). 

‘Ability Today’, as an organisation, appeals to both the ‘old’ and ‘new’ me, in that it deals in realism, but tinged with ambition. Securing a place on the coveted NCTJ diploma, we were told in no uncertain terms that this was not a spoon-fed, slacker- vibe, comfy course. As students, we are expected to self-study, attend masterclasses, and take timely exams. In what has become a rather reclusive life, I struggle to recall being spoken to on these terms for over three years. I felt almost a frisson of excitement. This was a return to real-life – and one that I am more than ready for.

The team at Ability Today have a professional, constructive approach. My interview was just that – a series of questions about my current capabilities and goals. For the former, I also had to focus on my current health, mental and physical. 

Could I concentrate, recall information, and start to write again? Discussing the latter, I sometimes feel like I’m swimming in treacle – the diploma will provide the direction of travel. I hope that I can learn new things, as well as awakening former techniques. After three years of illness, it was rather dispiriting to discover that social media is even more embedded in political and media communication! 

In my previous profession I wrote for other people – MPs, Ministers, and businessmen. Now, I have a desire to find my voice. I feel a responsibility to my new, disabled, peers; and to those who are also beginning a new chapter in their lives. Throughout the journalism diploma, this voice will be tested and nurtured through assignments, exams, and an e-portfolio. We are starting with legal, ethical and conduct frameworks – the red lines. Within these, I will explore the best ways to subtly deploy heuristics and nudges for changes in social behaviour towards disabled adults. 

We know good journalism creates conversations. And that AT and the NCTJ produce good journalists. My challenge is to study how, where, and when to combine these.

Written by: Amy Selman, 2023 cohort 

The post Disability in Media: Meet Amy Selman and her experience of social enterprise Ability Today appeared first on Wellbeing Magazine.

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