Meredith Bartley

University of Leeds Postgraduate Award, University of Leeds - Disability Studies

I selected Leeds for the programme's embrace of the social model of disability, which considers the role that societal barriers play in the experience of disability. This framework, which originated in the UK, is an advance over the traditional medical model of disability, which holds that the body or mind must be repaired in order to conform to normative values. I have a background in documentary film, and I hope to use the powerful medium of film to turn activism into advocacy, something that disability activists have always excelled at. As a storyteller, my camera is not only my eyes but my voice; with my Fulbright experience, I can start conversations about the experience of disability, especially autism, through my very existence as an autistic filmmaker. The stigma surrounding autism often prevents open conversations that could bring about not only a better understanding but acceptance and accessibility. But it’s worth it to speak up because whenever I do, good things seem to come from it: a is wider understanding of autism, what it looks like in girls, and sometimes, what it looks like in oneself. I'm also a huge fan of women's football - or soccer, as we call it here. I can't wait to be the biggest fan of the Leeds United Ladies!