My name is William Ogden and I am currently a Trustee Director for Decibels. I have been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for my ‘hands-on’ service that has made a significant difference to the lives of people in the local community.

As someone who is profoundly deaf and partially blind, a person who has always, using personal experience, wanted to make a positive difference through my professional work and volunteering, I am lost for words. To be recognised and honoured by Her Majesty, The Queen, for my services to the Education and Accessibility sector, during her 70 years reign is just staggering.

I currently work at a University as an Academic Affairs Adviser. During the pandemic, I have spent many hours listening, speaking, and advising anxious students online as they speak about the impact of COVID-19, as we slowly navigate ourselves through a new era of lockdowns into a new post pandemic society. I still receive “Thank you” emails from students who have graduated to this day.

In my spare time, I enjoy voluntarily cooperating with and advising a variety of different organisations, recommending positive working practices to be reflected and put in place to embrace the diverse and inclusive world we live in today. It is always deeply gratifying to receive updates from organisations thanking me for my input as they implement the new approaches.

I’ve also been very fortunate to have unexpected work opportunities arise, such as writing articles sharing my (good and bad!) experiences, for many media outlets, from The Sunday Times, BBC Education, Microsoft (X-Box), The Guardian, Channel 4 and Time Out to name but a few.

Typically, I wouldn’t usually share this news; as some people that know me well might say, I am too modest to speak up about my achievements, but I am learning to take more pride in the work that I have done. Nevertheless, unbeknownst to me, my name was put forward to be considered to receive this award and here I am!

I would like to dedicate this award to my Mum, Judith; my Dad, Philip; and my sister, Harriet. They have supported me every step of the way since I was born, and my family have always fought my battles besides me to ensure I am given equal access everywhere I go and they have always encouraged me to follow my passion, and my dreams. Having such pride in my disabilities, feeling such huge passion for the arts, achieving two degrees and a third degree underway – their support and my drive to succeed has certainly paid off! I have been inspired to take on the role of an advocator; to take our family’s desire to ensure that everyone else has equal access and that everyone can embrace their own barriers. I stand with people of all disabilities, abilities, and differences; together, we will fight for a fairer future for all.

Long may my journey to help others continue but there is still a lot more work to be done. I am looking forward to the opportunities this award will bring, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds.

Thank you,

William Ogden BEM