My name is Tam Gilbert. I'm an English graduate and I work as an actress and theatre practitioner in Dorset.
Growing up I never saw myself as visually impaired, as no one actually referred to my disability as such. I would get asked on a regular basis; So what's wrong with you?" or "How much can you see?" I wanted to respond; "Well, how much can you see?"
I would find myself explaining that I did not know what any one else could see, so what I see is completely normal to me. As an adult I now understand my 'supposed sight difficulties' a little better in terms of what people want to hear. So I find myself saying "Well, its about depth perception, spacial awareness steps...."
They seem happy with that answer.....
So now I want to explore what it was like for other women growing up visually impaired before the time when there was an understanding of disability. How was their education, compared to mine and how did society treat them? Is there anything we have in common?
Technology and teaching methods have changed so much since I was at school. I would like to find out how young women today with visual impairments find life. How much has really changed? I want to find and record the stories of lots of visually impaired women from all professionsand document their personal story.
Inspired by the remarkable story of Helen Keller and her own personal experiences of growing up visually impaired, I , Tam Gilbert, would like to research all these womens' journeys in learning to communicate and understand the world around them.
Your funding support will enable us to approach the Heritage Lottery Fund for funding for our research pilgrimage, it will also go towards collating the stories in an e-book and in making a short documentary of the research to be held online and at the Dorset History Center,Priest's House Museum, Wimborne and the RNIB Heritage Service, London. Supporting us will ensure that womens' voices and stories will be heard and recorded for generations to come!
Supported by Salisbury Arts Centre, I took part in a theatre scratch performance in March 2016. I am i now keen to further develop the piece into a full length play for touring. The research from this project will inform the content of Tams new play Sensing Helen.