Featured Voices: Nikki Fox
Nikki Fox holds first place on The Shaw Trust Power 100, a list of the top 100 influencers with disabilities in the UK. Fox, who has muscular dystrophy and dyslexia, is the BBC News Disability Correspondent and Watchdog presenter.
Though school was difficult for her, Fox did not know she had dyslexia as a child. After graduating with a degree in music, she took a job answering phones at a local BBC radio station. She worked her way up by doing a few segments on air, an experience that motivated her to apply for a TV training program. There, she started as a runner, and was promoted to assistant producer on How to Look Good Naked. Her next job was co-presenting the same series featuring people with disabilities.
While she was working as a television producer, Fox also produced a radio documentary series called Beyond Disability: The Adventures of a Blue Badger, covering important topics such as debt and unemployment. (“Blue badge” is a reference to accessible parking.) The second episode discusses the necessity of inclusive education. Fox was fully included in school, and her primary school had physical therapists on staff. In the episode, Fox describes how she was pulled from the classroom during key subjects to take swimming lessons: “I can swim really really well but I am thick,“ she admits. (“Thick” is British slang for slow.) The takeaway of the episode is that children should be exposed to people of all abilities in order to normalize disability. Fox says she learned from making the documentary that she is “a bit of a useless disabled person, for the following reasons: I didn’t notice the lack of role models until now. If I do face discrimination or bad attitudes, I do tend to try to find it funny. Maybe I should say more but I won’t.” The documentaries earned a Sony Radio Award and a 2012 New York Festival Radio Program and Promotions Award.
Fox’s openness and friendliness also shines through in her reporting. “One of the reasons I love being disabled is because I get to see the kindness in people,” she told The Guardian. In 2014, she produced a segment for BBC News in which she walked with the support of a robotic exoskeleton. Some hospitals in the UK were using the £120,000 machinery to help people regain their ability to walk. Fox says that walking isn’t always necessary for people with disabilities, but that she decided to try it because exercise is crucial for people with muscular dystrophy. Friends and family were present to witness her walk independently for the first time in almost 10 years. The smile on her face expressed more elation than words ever could.
You can follow Nikki Fox on Twitter and Instagram.