Wednesday, 3 October 2018

In 1948, 14-year-old Robert Hinds met acclaimed disability activist Helen Keller and turned his life around.

The teenager had just been diagnosed with a rare, genetic condition - retinitis pigmentosa. He was going blind, and life was starting to get him down.

“Helen Keller was a big mentor in my life,” says Hinds, now an 84-year-old Northern Beaches resident. “Since then, my motto has always been ‘Don’t lie down with a disability’.”

To celebrate both Social Inclusion Week and International Day of People With a Disability, Robert will be a volunteer ‘Human Book’ for a day.

Council’s Stories of the Northern Beaches - Human Library event will be held on Saturday 1 December at the newly-refurbished Tramshed Arts & Community Centre in Narrabeen. The event will feature real people, ‘on loan’ to the public for 20 minutes at a time to share stories about overcoming challenges, stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination.

This will be Robert’s second experience as a ‘Human Book’ and the former chair of the Manly Access Committee and well-known local advocate, thoroughly enjoyed it last time.

“I shared my story with a number of people, including children and parents, business people, professional people and others,” said Robert. “Children were especially interested in my story.”

His main message to people is: “You’ve really got to be yourself and be up-front with people that you’ve got a disability - and not let it get you down.”

If you are willing to share stories about your ethnic or cultural background, religion, sexual orientation, appearance, disability or lifestyle, we encourage you to come forward and be a ‘Human Book’ on December 1.

To express your interest in becoming a ‘Human Book’, fill in the online form at or call 9976 1562. Applications close 24 October.

If you would like to attend this event as ‘reader’, bookings will be open in early November.