1. A Twitter story. Nearly 70 years ago a woman from one of the poorest parts of #belfast went into labour. Thinking it was premature labour, around about 30 weeks, her and her husband John were soon to find out that it was no where near 30 weeks.
2. Elizabeth and John Owens were about to become parents to their 6th and 7th children, twins. Born far too soon, as per the episode of @CallTheMidwife1 the midwife had to convince the doctor to allow them to be taken into hospital.
3. The babies, both weighing 1lb were rushed in and given the very best treatment using the most update to knowledge doctor had. The decision to keep giving the babies enough oxygen was that their optic nerves were both damaged.
4. Elizabeth and John took home two blind babies. The babies grew up and one, who managed to retain some sight until around the age of 7, were given the very best Belfast in the 50’s had to offer: school for the blind. One of the babies did very well.
5. She was offered a place at a boarding school in England. So, a little girl from Belfast was put on a boat 3 times a year and sent away to school. It soon became apparent that she was very intelligent and musical, but all the while losing sight.
6. By the time she was 17, with the help of the excellent teaching staff at boarding school, who became so much more than just teachers, this little 1lb baby became the first blind person from Belfast to be accepted into @UniofNewcastle
7. In her first year all her sight completely went, she navigated university with the help of @guidedogs With only Braille to read from, she had to have all her reading read to her, she had to dictate all of her essays
8. If she wanted to do any extra reading, she had to spend hours getting it in Braille format so she could keep up with everyone else. She continued to excel in piano, memorising all of her exam pieces as no other way of learning music for blind people existed back then
9. Back home in Belfast she left behind 6 siblings who never finished school, two parents who couldn’t read or write and tried their best to understand the world of academia. They came to England, using all they had to stand next to her on her graduation day.
10. She graduated with a 2:1. There is one picture from that day. On either side stood John and Elizabeth, taller and prouder than any other parents there. With Shandy, the guide dog who had been as important as anyone.
11. She went on to be a teacher for a short time, work in a bank, and ultimately worked for @RNIB. She has been responsible for making things like online shopping accessible for blind (shout out to @Tesco for being one of the first to do this)
12. Helping @Apple to make their products usable for blind people and grading papers for blind children getting qualifications. 70 years later she needs some help and wants to be near family. She (and her husband who she met somewhere around the working for the bank mark)
13. Are selling their home. A couple of weeks ago, a very big and well known conveyancing service refused to be their lawyers. The reason they gave? Because the twin, who’s story you have read is blind, they didn’t think she could understand the documentation.
14. 70 years later, no one could quite believe it. Disability discrimination is still a thing, so just a friendly reminder tonight for you: blind doesn’t = stupid. Oh, and that’s my mum.