I recently had the privilege of interviewing my friend Sandie, who I met through social media, on my mission to change the way disability and sexuality is defined. They were warm, friendly and supportive of my work and we became friends very quickly and easily. Here’s what they had to say: 1. Tell me who you are and what you do as a content creator and influencer on social media? I’m  Sandie Roberts , a queer, midlife, full time wheelchair user with quite a few disabilities including a genetic condition I was born with called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), and a few I have acquired along the way - Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), Fibromyalgia and Post Covid Syndrome (Long Covid). I use my social media platforms to share what I have learnt living with a disability both to raise awareness and to help those who might be struggling with similar issues as myself.   2. You say in your blog that you became “suddenly disabled in 2019”, can you please talk a bit more about that? Although


February is the month of love, but for many within the disabled community, it’s a painful reminder that we are different. I appreciate that I’m writing this as a married woman, but I’ve been through my fair share of heartbreak. I remember being at college as a teenager, watching my non disabled peers get a dozen red roses, chocolates and cuddly toys from their boyfriends and girlfriends, all sharing their stories about how they were going out that evening, for a romantic dinner or to the cinema. The following day was worse, as I had to listen to how amazing their romantic evening had gone. I still remember the feeling of being alone and unworthy of love and romance.  If I was ever admired by someone, it was only ever because they saw me as an inspiration. I fell in love with a guy in my late teens, because every time I saw him, he would spend ages telling me how beautiful, amazing and attractive I was. But he meant it platonically. He never dreamed that I would internalise his words as


January is cervical cancer awareness month. Cervical cancer is the 4th leading cause of death in women worldwide, but when it’s diagnosed early, it’s one of the most successfully treatable forms of cancer. 88% of disabled women say it is harder for them to attend and access cervical screening. 63% are unable to attend screening because of their disability. 49% fail to attend screening because of a bad past experience. 1 in 5 disabled women are given the wrong information about cervical screening and cervical cancer because it’s assumed that they are not sexually active and haven’t had children. This assumption was made by a doctor about me and my lifestyle, purely because I’m paraplegic. I went for a routine screening back in 2006, when my two children were very young. My husband took me in the car one evening after work, as I had to attend an evening clinic at a different surgery to my own because I was told that my disability made it too difficult for them to as they didn’t have the

Communication is key.

  I recently interviewed David Alan Blackmore, who is deaf and has cerebral palsy, about his experience of forming friendships and dating as a disabled man.  It was a difficult conversation to have, as he highlighted the very real barriers he faces every day, in a world that can often gaslight the disabled community and paint a toxically positive, rosy glow of how far society has come, with regards to inclusion. It is very clear from this man's testimony, that we still have a long way to go before disability is accepted in society and disabled people are understood as equal. Q1 How does your deafness affect your friendships and  relationships with peers and potential partners? My deafness gives me a unique perspective on the power of first impressions. With regards to making friends and other acquaintances, when I meet someone for the first time, there’s a barrier between us because my deafness means that I can’t hear them well and they can’t  understand my deaf dialect. I also hav