Zel in front of domed stone structure

Zel’s Story

Transcript of Zel’s Story as told by Zel

What’s working now is that I’ve come to accept myself the way I am. I’ve got what I’ve got and to be proud of that. I’m Zel Iscel.

I migrated to Australia with my family when I was six and I came from Turkey and we went to a country town. We went to Kalgoorlie initially because my dad was working in a mine there. Not only could I not speak English, but I can’t see a thing.

The teacher had no idea how to teach me so their idea of keeping me occupied was to sit on the floor in the classroom and play with play doh. But at no time do I remember other kids being in that class. So nobody, none of the other kids had communicated with me and I found it really difficult to actually ummm fit in.

So I was really isolated, very alone and very sad.
People were telling me I was very smart and I thought maybe if I dumbed down I would have more friends which was probably one of the worst mistakes I’ve made in my life.

One of the things I started to do in my kinda mid to late teens is realise that I was very closed in and I wasn’t sharing my thoughts and my feelings with everyone, and I had isolated myself as well from everyone.

So I thought maybe if I start telling people how I feel they might help me to become more included, more involved with things. If I was sad about something I would say so. And it kind of didn’t occur to them really that I would be sad about something. So when they realised they were like ‘whoa this person has feelings’ and it matters how we behave, how we react around her.
One of the most difficult questions for me to answer is what do you do for work. I’m a disability consultant. I have my own business. I work for the Womens Community Health Network and I promote awareness of family and domestic violence against women with disabilities.

I like the idea of not knowing what I’m going to be doing from one moment to the next.

Something’s that really assisted me in my life is technology. I have a laptop. Same laptop as anyone else with a screen reader. It reads out whatever’s on the screen. It’s verbal, which has allowed me so many more opportunities than I would otherwise have. That’s all I need to go from place to place and to do all different kinds of work.

In most cases now our biggest limitation is ourselves. I’m Zel Iscel.

Produced by Barking Wolf in partnership with VisAbility. Funded by Non-Government Centre Support, Department of Education.