WordPress.com Favorites: Empish Thomas

Welcome back to our “WordPress.com Favorites” series! In these interviews, we’ll be highlighting bloggers about their passion project. Caution: contents guaranteed to be inspiring. This interview has been lightly edited.    

Shortly after Empish Thomas earned her journalism degree in the mid-’90s, she began experiencing severe headaches and sensitivity to light. After a visit to the eye doctor, she was diagnosed with uveitis, a generalized eye inflammation that can quickly escalate to permanent damage. Unfortunately, Empish fell into that category, losing her sight fully within a few years. 

Since then, she’s been a writer, journalist, and advocate for blindness and disability rights, telling stories and championing awareness along the way. 

Empish generously took the time to answer a few of my questions and share some ideas on how we can all be better advocates for disability rights.  

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you write about and why? How long have you been blogging?

I am a freelance writer and blogger. I started off as a writer many years ago and later started blogging in 2013. Although I have a journalism degree, I love writing for the pure pleasure of it. I launched my own blog about two years ago as a safe place to write my own thoughts and ideas about things that concerned me. I write especially about my life as a blind person because when I became disabled 20+ years ago, I rarely saw positive and interesting stories about the disabled.

2. What are some of the most common negative portrayals you see about folks with disabilities in the news or in pop culture?

Well, there are actually two things I notice. One is the “superhero crip” image. That is a disabled person overcoming these incredible challenges and doing amazing things that everyone is impressed by. It sends a message that all disabled people are supposed to or want to be that way. It communicates a false expectation. At the end of the day, we are all human beings and live lives like everyone else.

The second one is that we are not visible at all. Many times, I will read a story or watch a news segment and wonder, “Where are the blind people? What is happening to those with disabilities?” This is not necessarily a negative thing, but more [shows our] exclusion from the storyline.

3. Let’s move to the workplace. How can employers become better allies and advocates for disability rights?

First, making sure that disabled employees get their accommodations to perform their jobs. 

Then, providing the support, encouragement, and motivation to help them move upward in the company the way you would an abled-bodied person. Sometimes I think that people with disabilities are not encouraged to move up into management or higher-level positions. It is like people can’t imagine a blind person as a supervisor or director. But with the right support, they could do the job like anyone else.


A Few of Empish’s Favorite Posts:


4. You’ve mentioned podcasts in a number of blog posts. Do you have any favorite listening experiences to recommend?

Yes, some of my favorite podcasts are HISTORY This Week, LeVar Burton Reads, The Stacking Benjamins, Code Switch, and Grammar Girl

5. What can someone do today to be a better advocate for disability rights, especially in the online space?

For me, being a better advocate is learning as much as you can about blindness and visual impairment. Reading things written by disabled people in their own voices. Through my years of writing about the disabled, I have had people reach out to me to learn more and that is a good thing. 

Also, helping those of us with visual disabilities get access to the internet. I can’t begin to tell you the number of websites I go to with accessibility issues. It is a regular challenge. Reaching out to web developers is hard and exhausting sometimes. But having allies to help in this process would be wonderful. It could be a simple thing like bringing awareness, because people don’t think that blind people are online.

6. Do have any tips for aspiring bloggers or freelance writers? 

Depending on the type of blog you are writing, it is so important to be organized. I use an editorial calendar where I jot down blog ideas for each month. I think about things coming up, current events, trending topics, etc., and add them to the calendar. This helps me to keep a good flow of blog posts.

Once people start subscribing they expect to see posts on a regular basis, and having an editorial calendar helps me stay on track.


Want to learn more about being organized and consistent with your writing? Sign up for our free, self-guided Intro to Blogging course today: 


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25 Comments

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  1. Still Thinking

    Your content is very inspiring.

    Liked by 20 people

  2. Frances Hendrix

    What a heroic woman., fighting on and achieving so much. I admire her for her contribution to others who are blind and to all of us to ‘get up and fight on’, for many things are very difficult, but they show us that what ever the challenge you can fight and achieve if you fight on!

    Liked by 19 people

  3. Gaurav Tiwari

    You are an inspiration, Empish.

    Liked by 16 people

  4. Grace Isabella

    Such a great read! I really enjoyed learning about Empish Thomas, and I must say…she has a fabulous name. Thank you for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 13 people

  5. clararidings

    This is great! Thanks for sharing Empish!

    Liked by 11 people

  6. James Gitau

    nice

    Liked by 11 people

  7. Harry Jay

    You’ve came through alot,and I’m impressed and inspired by what you’ve achieved..

    Liked by 15 people

  8. Stephanae

    Empish, great interview and it’s so wonderful seeing you represented here. Numbers 3 & 5 are so important and I hope many more people will see this and spread the word. You are an advocate extraordinaire and I greatly admire your work. Thank you!!

    Liked by 14 people

  9. https://bulluckg.com

    I am a retired educator now. One of the fulfilling ways in working with teachers was to help them understand students with disabilities and help their students do so. My thoughts then and now are: (1) We all have limitations, but it does not have to be a handicap; (2) You never know what incident could change your world, i.e., accident, illness, etc. Reaching out to others can help you find fulfillment. Do you desire to be “handicapped” and “handicapped” others by your limitations or allow others to reach their God-given potential? Which will be easier or more gratifying? What will be your legacy? Thank you to aspiring people such as Empish and Jeremy.

    Liked by 15 people

  10. Cegegacuhi

    A great inspiration

    Liked by 13 people

  11. rebeccaguerrero54

    Thank you for sharing your story

    Liked by 13 people

  12. Empish

    Hello everyone. Thank you so much for all the comments, likes and shares. I appreciate the warm words and expressions of love and support. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the reaction. OMG! Who would have ever thought my blog would do all of this. When I launched it f two years ago it was just a place to share my thoughts and have an online presence for my pursuit as a freelance writer. But I truly see the impact my words are making. Thanks again.

    Liked by 15 people

  13. arfagull

    thank you for sharing your story

    Liked by 10 people

  14. hammedmayowakamash

    Thank you for sharing this story

    Liked by 9 people

  15. Ariel Eshleman

    Wow congratulations on still pursuing your passion despite you disABILITY. 💝 This inspires me to take more action on my dreams. X, Ariel

    Liked by 11 people

  16. Wit-investor

    Thank you for this wonderful Inspiring post.

    Liked by 7 people

  17. Michael Bruce

    Your story is a great inspiration

    Liked by 6 people

  18. Sunny onuoha orji

    You are an inspiration

    Liked by 4 people

  19. Ruvilyn Tayko

    Nice . But . I hope that someone help me to read my work …🤦😢🤩

    Liked by 6 people

  20. randimenke

    I was activities director for incoming freshmen with special needs (not necessarily disabilities) at the university in our town so I love to hear stories of people achieving their dreams and goals and persevering despite adversity. You are an inspiration!

    Liked by 5 people

  21. Byekwaso Jumah

    Thanks

    Liked by 5 people

  22. sahaaparupa37

    You are an inspiration

    Liked by 5 people

  23. Sarahjha

    Lovely

    Liked by 4 people

  24. Odongoedwin

    You’re a champ Empish you’ve inspired me greatly

    Liked by 3 people

  25. peculiaromolayo

    Thanks for sharing. Very inspiring to me.

    Liked by 2 people

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