Martin Stewart

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Editor’s Note

Martin Stewart, with support from BCA, was last year instrumental in inspiring Telstra not only to make significant accessibility fixes to all their AFL and NRL apps, but also to hire two world-class app developers with experience writing accessible software.

It seems that by raising awareness of the issue, Martin has helped the telecommunications giant make a new, more sustainable commitment to accessibility. Here, he offers compelling insight into his perspective on advocacy, and an optimistic vision of a more inclusive future.


As I mingle and circulate, I often hear it said, “let’s face it, I can’t change this”. “It doesn’t matter what I do or say”. “My opinions do not count”.

These are understandable feelings of alienation and disempowerment. Such feelings are experienced and expressed more often within minority groups. Although this is easily rationalised because of mainstream attitudinal ignorance and therefore outcomes, I say let’s reject such negatives and replace them with the power of our natural, strong and unique character print.

I can hear you asking, “what does this mean”? Here is my explanation, which is based upon my many years of advocacy experience.

Every human being has a unique DNA makeup. This impacts upon how we individually interact. Therefore, each of us possesses what I describe as a unique character print. I strongly suggest that this very individual personality, that each of us has, is actually naturally required to complete society’s jigsaw puzzle. Without you, your opinions, actions and skills, society itself is the loser.

In days gone by, people would refer to sayings such as “the power of the pen” or “the pen is mightier than the sword”. These descriptive sayings were meant to convey the influence that an individual could wield by the simple act of handwriting. Of course for many of us blind or low vision citizens, our words were then primarily produced by writing in brilliant braille.

Thanks to technology, our expression horizons have truly broadened. Now we can express ourselves in so many varying formats, and on social media. For example, I am currently using voice interactive software to produce what you are now reading. This, in the recent past, was simply not possible. This being said, if you choose to make your unique mark by expressing yourself using older technology, such as a pen or landline phone, this is definitely you speaking your own way.

With technology, such as language translators, I believe the cultural gaps are being bridged, and the world is becoming smaller, therefore the opportunity to influence is becoming larger. The use of words, rather than fists, to influence outcomes is increasingly society’s preferred language.

I optimistically believe that this slow but sure global change is the key to true equality and equal opportunity. When this occurs we will no longer be a minority, instead each one of us will be a valued and unique contributor to humanity.

Despite steps back, I believe that this change is happening. Your advocacy is as good as you and your words. You have been born with traits which we need to be influenced by. I hope that we all can respond accordingly when we next face the inevitable advocacy challenge, with self-worth in mind.

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