Experiencing disability

The Archbishop of Canterbury and a Rabbi discuss the experience of disability with the BBC. Rowan Williams is totally deaf in one ear and Rabbi Lionel Blue talks about his epilepsy.

Dr Rowan Williams is totally deaf in one ear, and while recognising that this is a comparatively minor disability, feels that it has made him think about communication, and how disability can create tensions on both sides.

“When you are with people who have real challenges, deep disabilities, you are left being put in touch with your own vulnerability and your own uselessness, your own lack of omnipotence,” he said.

With Lionel Blue, who has epilepsy, the issue is not so much communication, as embarrassment; but being Rabbi Lionel Blue, he has tried, wherever possible, to see the funny side of life.

“I think I was grateful for epilepsy,” he said.

“Although materially it has been an inconvenience, spiritually it has taught me a lot.

“For example, I know what it is like to be at the wrong end of the stick, to need help, to go through a difficult patch in life.

“And I don’t suppose I could have got that knowledge very easily in any other way.

“I think without it I’d have been a much smugger person.”

Listen to the story here.

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