Why Dylan Alcott is an Important Voice in Australia
After an outstanding appearance on Q&A last month that managed to go viral, Dylan Alcott has been front and center of the disability community. With a vibrant personality and a refreshing attitude toward disability advocacy, Dylan is leading a new wave of awareness for the Australian disability community. Because of this we wanted to have a closer look at exactly who Dylan is and why voices like his are so important.
Dylan is an accomplished Paralympian who has represented Australia for both wheelchair basketball and his passion, tennis. He’s done loads of cool things; like win gold for Australia, meet Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle; he presents on the nation’s premier youth radio broadcaster Triple J and has even (accidentally, we hope) run over the Dali Lama’s toes with his wheelchair! He won the Australian open in 2018 and was patron for ‘International Day of People with Disability’ in 2017. Although the coolest thing we think Dylan does is use his position within the media to positively advocate for the disability community.
(Dylan Alcott meets the world's favourite duchesses, taken from @dylanalcottofficial - Facebook )
Most notable is the work he does with his foundation, ‘The Dylan Alcott Foundation’ and their inclusive music festival AbilityFest. The festival was launched in 2018 and featured some of the best musical talents Australia could provide. It was a fully inclusive festival for everyone, to bring people regardless of disability, age, gender and race. Ability Fest was inclusive for people of all abilities, with a fully accessible venue, multiple viewing platforms for wheelchair users, and AUSLAN translators visible onstage for all mainstage acts.
Bringing the sexy…
Dylan wants to make disability sexy. If you watched his appearance on Q&A you would have also seen that he is a fierce advocate for normalcy in society’s perceptions of people with disabilities. He’s a little bit sick of a disconnect between the representation of disability in media and reality. For example, as Dylan states, the only representation of people who looked like him when he was growing up were people in ‘after’ car accident images for motor safety ads. This media representation is building a negative stigma about how people with a disability live their lives. He himself learnt that having positive role models with disabilities changed his own perspective on the world, when he started Paralympic sport;
"Not only did it get me fitter, but I also met people who were just like me, other people in wheelchairs who were smiling, happy, maybe even married, travelling the world, doing things that I didn't know if I could do," he said.
"I didn't know any positive role models with disability [until then], so it was a real eye opening experience for me."
– Dylan Alcott, ABC
(A photo of Dylan's recent feature on Rage-ABC, Taken from @dylanalcottoffical - Facebook)
Currently Dylan's mission is to create a REAL view of people with a disability in the media and society. To show that people with a disability aren’t just an ‘after’ photo. To creative positive role models for those with a disability and show real people, with real fulfilled lives and that having a disability is not a negative!
One of the way’s he is doing this is through his company Get Skilled Access, which offers training for companies on life with a disability, and accessibility challenges in their everyday interactions with major businesses and government. The training is exclusively delivered by people with disabilities.
Dylan believes that his life would not have been the same and he would not have had such great opportunities without his disability. He was quoted in a recent article by the ABC to say "I love the fact that I'm in a wheelchair, I'm really proud of it and it's given me a lot of my opportunities in life,".
SACARE is so impressed with all that Dylan is doing for the disability community, and the nationwide impact he is having on the representation of people with a disability. He just goes to prove that with a little determination, passion and a hint of charisma that anything can be achieved. And most importantly that disability IS SEXY!
**Title photo taken from @dylanalcottoffical - Facebook**
SACARE is inspired by people with a disability who use their passions to support others in the disability community. We recently spoke to Martyn Sibley from Disability Horizons about how he is working to make the world more inclusive. If you would like to read that blog post follow this link.
We are also constantly updating our website with exciting things happening within SACARE, you can find out a bit more about that here.