Growing up with hearing loss, facing disability made up a significant portion of my childhood. No matter what, the words “What did you say?” snuck their way into every conversation, and when they didn’t, I pretended to follow along. I pretended to be “normal.”

After coming to Duke, working with Duke Disability Alliance has inspired me to accept disability as part of my identity and has motivated me to pursue disability advocacy. Through DDA and by working with the disability community, I’ve realized that society has a predetermined sense of “normality,” which does not include disability. Instead, disability is something that people believe should be fixed. I use my project as a force to contradict this sense of “normality,” diving into the life of Lucia Maria Romano, a young woman with Down’s Syndrome. Through my camera, I explore how Lucia has been impacted during the pandemic, particularly by B3 Coffee, an organization that hires people with both disabilities and abilities.

The disability community deserves just as much inclusion as any other. They don’t need to pretend to be “normal.” Because at the end, what even is “normal”?