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Disability – it’s no joke Losing your hearing is no laughing matter but, for comedian Steve Day, losing his sense of humour would be worse. By Glenn Sebright

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teve Day is, in his own words, “Britain’s only deaf comic – if there are any others I haven’t heard.” This December he headlined the SENSE pan-Ability arts festival at the Albany in Deptford, organised by the Lewisham music workshop group and Lewisham arts service to form the highlight of the Council’s celebrations to mark International Day of Disabled People on 3 December. At 16 Steve started to lose his hearing but pretended not to have a problem. “I made it worse by playing music really, really loud on earphones.” Now he uses his own story to motivate others with his unique stand-up comedy act. “I’m not a spokesman or anything, I just know about me. I don’t make light of deafness but I do try to make the most of what I can do rather than crying about what I can’t. Losing my sense of humour

would be a worse disability.” Reviews of Steve’s act at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year were full of praise. This year, he has performed in New York, Copenhagen and Dublin. Back in the UK, as a Lewisham resident for over five years now, how does Steve think disability issues are managed locally? “Actually Lewisham is quite good. The thing that’s hardest to change is the attitude that disabled people are sympathy cases to be patronised. What we need are practical things that enable us to get on with life: transport that you can use if you’re in a chair, loop systems, a way of getting people who work in banks not to talk with their hands in front of their faces. You can’t just bung a ramp in front of a library and say – well that’s the disabled taken care of then.” As an extra string to his bow, Steve has also developed a motivational show to help people make the most of their talents, which is proving to be very popular with corporate clients. With a rapidly expanding schedule, the only difficulty Steve now has is clocking up motorway miles as he drives up and down the country doing his show and keeping his five children happy in between. Disability hasn’t stopped Steve from making a successful career as a comedian. Far from encouraging you to laugh at his deafness, he simply demonstrates that disability itself doesn’t have to be a barrier to doing what you want to do. More often than not, the barriers are external and International Day of Disabled People is about raising awareness of disability and bringing those barriers down. L E W I S HA M L I F E • 11


Disability - It's no joke