Women’s Month Feature: Blind Courage
By Vanessa Papas
Beautiful. Nurturing. Compassionate. Ambition. Powerful. Women across the world are rising stronger than ever before. We have today a far cry from simply being ‘a man’s world’. In celebration of National Women’s Day on 9 August, we take a look at some amazing women who, despite their disabilities, have risen beyond imagination and become a force to be reckoned with.
Lois Strachan of Cape Town became blind when she was 21 years old as a result of insulin dependent diabetes. She has a guide dog who helps her travel around independently.
“Since losing my sight I completed my Bachelor of Arts degree and an Honours degree at UKZN.
I work as a professional speaker, author, blogger, and disability consultant where my purpose is to demystify disability to increase the inclusion of persons with disabilities into society and the workplace,” she said. “My work includes training customer service teams on how to engage with visually impaired customers effectively and without anxiety, assessing accessibility of websites and online materials, and raising awareness of the abilities of persons with disabilities so facilitate increased employability.”
Lois has published five books – a series of illustrated children’s books called the Adventures of Missy Mouse, which explain to children that a person who is blind is simply a ‘normal’ person who does things in a different manner, and A Different Way of Seeing: A Blind Woman’s Journey of Living an ‘Ordinary’ Life in an Extraordinary Way. In 2013 she was awarded a Tributes Excellence Award in the category of Education and Literature for the work she’s done.
In 2008/09 she was elected as District Governor of Toastmasters International for Southern Africa, an organisation that helps people develop communication and leadership skills, serving the needs of around 2500 people in nine countries in Southern Africa.
She is also a travel writer, using her experiences of traveling both locally and overseas to explain how a blind person can live a full and productive life. She writes a regular travel feature for the US-based e-newsletter, the Blind Perspective.