A woman living with a visual disability has set a record to become the U.K’s first blind barrister. In spite of an eye condition called Bilateral microphthalmia, 23-year-old Jessikah Inaba completed her entire course using Braille and qualified as a Barrister on October 13, 2022. She studied law for five years at the University of Law in London.
Crediting her tutors for her achievement, Inaba has joined the Bar- and is believed to be the first black and blind person to do so. Inaba (Jess), who hails from Camden, North London, said:
“It’s been crazy – I still can’t really believe I’ve done it, it was hard and I often thought of giving up, but my supportive family gave me courage and strength. I always believed in myself from the start – there’s nothing about me which means this isn’t possible. I know I can do this job really well, and the more people like me who go through training the easier it will become.”
She continued: “It’s a really good feeling, I know I’m giving hope to others in similar situations to mine. There’s a triple-glazed glass ceiling. I’m not the most common gender or color, and I have a disability, but by pushing through I’m easing the burden on the next person like me.”
Inaba started her accelerated law degree in September 2017 before beginning a master’s two years later alongside a professional training course.
Whilst the use of the Braille, which can be read on a special screen aided her studying, Inaba claims it took seven months for her university to obtain one of her two key study texts so she could read on her computer, and five months for the other.
She also said friends were very helpful to read out text, describe pictures and tables to her due to Braille’s inability to interpret such.
She also said the university stepped in to provide additional one-on-one help to support her when her lack of access to materials started holding her back.
In court, Inaba uses a tiny electronic machine with a Braille keyboard with one key for each dot and a small screen where symbols pop up.
It means she can keep her ears free to listen and can read and edit easily just by using her hands.
She believes she has her work cut out for her due to her disability and background but encourages others in her position not to give up.
She now plans to apply for a pupillage – where newly qualified barristers get their first placement in chambers – when applications open in January.
The University of Law added: “Jess is the first black and blind student to study at The University of Law. We are extremely proud of Jess’ achievements and we know she will be an inspiration to all students, showing that you can succeed in the face of physical challenges. We wish her the very best in her future career.”
Ogo Adelakun writes on diverse subjects.