23-year-old woman may be first Black and blind UK lawyer

"I always believed in myself from the start — there's nothing about me which means this isn't possible,” Jessikah Inaba said.

A young woman from Great Britain is believed to be the country’s first blind and Black barrister and she is speaking out about her history-making milestone. 

“There’s a triple-glazed glass ceiling. I’m not the most common gender or colour, and I have a disability, but by pushing through I’m easing the burden on the next person like me,” Jessikah Inaba, 23, of North London told The Times UK, Yahoo reported.

Inaba, who studied at the University of Law — London Bloomsbury for five years, has a condition known as bilateral microphthalmia. The abnormality arises before birth and those who suffer from it have undeveloped and small eyeballs.

To complete her studies, she used her own Braille materials from lecture notes and course books that friends read to her. She also had tutoring to help when the Braille books lacked vital course material such as pictures and tables. “I was spending more time preparing my own learning materials than I was studying,” she said.

The University of Law officials told The Times UK that they were happy to be a resource. “There were challenges with sourcing materials in braille but we were pleased to be able to provide these eventually.”

Now, Inaba uses a portable Braille-friendly electronic machine for court proceedings that allows her to read, listen and edit using her hands. “I know I can do this job well, and the more people like me who go through training the easier it will become,” she said. 

Inaba admits she considered giving up during her studies but now that she has joined the Bar, she wants to inspire others who may have similar challenges.

“I have to accept I might never be competing on a level playing field — that’s hard. People from minority groups training to do this will face discrimination, hopefully that will get easier with time.”

Currently, she is the only known blind and Black person to qualify as a barrister in the U.K. She will soon apply for a pupillage (work-based training) in hopes of securing a position in a barrister’s chambers. The application process for new barristers opens in January.

“I always believed in myself from the start — there’s nothing about me which means this isn’t possible,” she said.

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