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Jessikah Inaba Becomes UK’s First Blind Black Barrister

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A young woman has become Britain’s first blind and Black barrister, in an achievement that has been described as ‘truly remarkable.

23-year-old Jessikah Inaba qualified last week after studying for five years at a university in London. She completed her entire course using Braille and also credits her friends as well as her tutors for helping to fill in the gaps.

Jess is completely blind and had to use Braille throughout her time at the University of Law – London Bloomsbury. She started her accelerated law degree in September 2017 before starting a master’s two years later alongside a professional training course.

Braille can be read on a special screen that usually gives one line at a time, or from specially printed books. She said 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.

And, because of pictures and tables in the books, her Braille screen missed huge chunks of material, she said.

She says she got through most of her studies by making her own Braille materials from her lecture notes, or from friends reading books to her.

On her achievement, Jess said: ‘It’s been crazy – I still can’t really believe I’ve done it. One day I’ll wake up and realise how amazing this is.

‘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.

‘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 colour, and I have a disability, but by pushing through I’m easing the burden on the next person like me.’

on following your dreams – you’ll get there.’

Jessikah Inaba

The University of Law said: ‘Jess is the first black and blind student to study at The University of Law.

‘As a university, we were able to provide additional support to ensure Jess was able to succeed on the courses.

‘There were challenges with sourcing materials in braille but we were pleased to be able to provide these eventually.

‘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.’

Sam Mercer, head of diversity and inclusion at the Bar Council, said: ‘Huge congratulations to Jessikah on joining the Bar.

‘The Bar Council celebrates diversity in order to create a profession that is representative of all and for all.

‘Role models, like Jessikah, within the profession have an important part to play in helping us to break down barriers to the Bar and encourage a more diverse profession.’


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