Episode 223 – Unstoppable Children’s Author and Outspoken Advocate with Jann Weeratunga

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I want to introduce you to Jann Weeratunga from South Africa who is our guest on this episode. Jann was born and grew up in Lundon. After working as a highway maintenance engineer for 10 years she moved to Sri Lanka where she married and lived for several years. Her husband passed away after they were married for four and a half years, but Jann continued to work and live there until she got the moving urge and ended up living in South Africa.
Jann has always had a deep interest in the para-Olympics. In 2012, while watching the closing ceremony of the London Paralympic Games, Jann was deeply moved by Sir Philip Craven’s speech which included The tale of a young boy reading a book and recognizing a man with an eye patch, a hook for a hand, a parrot on his shoulder, and a wooden leg as an Olympian. This imagery sparked a transformative idea within her. Anyone recognize the man as a pirate? Jann did and began to write what is now a series of 10 children’s books about Polly the Parrot or Pirate. Jann will tell us Polly’s story and how this bird helped to create the Piralympics. This series is all about pirates, all of whom have disabilities and who compete in the “piralympics”.
To date, Jann has written over 40 books for children, some poetry and even books for adults. As she says, writing is a muscle that needs to be developed and exercised daily. This conversation to me is certainly quite inspirational and insightful for all. I hope you enjoy it.
About the Guest:
Jann Weeratunga is an author who firmly believes in the importance of representation and diversity, particularly for the 15% of the population who are often overlooked— the disabled community.
In 2012, while watching the closing ceremony of the London Paralympic Games, Jann was deeply moved by Sir Philip Craven’s speech. The tale of a young boy reading a book and recognizing a man with an eye patch, a hook for a hand, a parrot on his shoulder, and a wooden leg as an Olympian sparked a transformative idea within her. This powerful moment gave birth to the unique concept and content of the Polly’s Piralympics Series (Paralympics for Pirates). Through these books, Jann tackles important themes like disabilities, bullying, and cheating.
However, plagued by self-doubt, Jann’s journey faced a roadblock until 2016, when a friend who pushed her to take a leap of faith, reminding her that she would never know unless she published her work. This encouragement marked the beginning of her real journey as an author and Polly’s Piralympics was launched in South Africa.
Jann’s flagship series, Polly’s Piralympics, has garnered tremendous success and continues to thrive, with the tenth book currently in the works. In March 2018, she established the Schools Reading Road Show, a non-profit organization aimed at enhancing literacy among primary school students in South Africa. Alongside her fellow authors, she embarked on a mission to visit schools in various regions, sharing inspiring stories, delivering motivational talks on important topics like "anti-bullying" and "it’s okay to be different," and encouraging young learners to explore their own storytelling abilities.
Beyond her writing, Jann founded the Schools Reading Road Show, an organization that promotes literacy and encourages young learners to embrace diversity. She has visited schools, delivered motivational talks, and empowered children to tell their own stories.
Jann’s impactful work extends to addressing conferences, conducting workshops, and participating in panels, all aimed at emphasizing the importance of representation and inclusivity. She continues to write Best Seller stories for children, while exploring different creative avenues for adults under her pen name, JE Gallery.
Her works have received several awards and nominations across Africa.
Recognized for her invaluable contributions to the literary landscape, Jann has spoken at the prestigious Embrace Head Teachers Conference in 2018 and 2019. She has also conducted workshops on the significance of reading for young adult pupils, participated in panels at esteemed events such as the JBBF (Jozi Books and Blogs Festival), South African Children’s Book Fair, and Kingsmead Book Fair.
In 2020 on the eve of Lockdown, she organised and ran the Bennies Book Fayre for Children. The largest Children’s Book fair for children in South Africa. To Date in 2023 she has attended the Zintzomi Storytelling Book Fair and The Johannesburg Festival of Women Writers.
Even amidst the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Jann found solace in her writing during the period of isolation. This time allowed her to focus on her craft, resulting in the release of her latest series, Patch’s Pirate Pals. The first two books in the series, "Bluebird’s New Ship" and "Redhair’s Snot Cannonballs," achieved the remarkable feat of becoming Amazon Best Sellers in June and July 2022.
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Ways to connect with Jann:
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
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Transcription Notes:

Michael Hingson ** 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson ** 01:21
Well, hi, thanks for listening here on unstoppable mindset. We’re inclusion diversity in the unexpected meet. Today, we get to travel to South Africa to talk with Jann Weeratunga. I hope I pronounced that reasonably right. And absolutely perfectly. Oh, great. I like to I like to try. Jann is an author. She’s created a series around what she calls the piralympics. And we’re going to talk about that. But she has a lot of other things to bring into the discussion as well. So I think we’re going to have a lot of fun today. So Jann, welcome to unstoppable mindset. We’re really glad you’re here with us.
Jann Weeratunga ** 02:05
Thank you, Michael. We’re really glad to join you.
Michael Hingson ** 02:07
Well, why don’t we start at I love to do with kind of learning a little bit about the earlier Jann growing up and all that sort of stuff.
Jann Weeratunga ** 02:16
Okay. I was born in London. I grew up in London, schooled in London. I eventually got married and moved out to Sri Lanka, hence my very peculiar surname. And I was out there for about 10 years, my husband passed away. And from there, I moved into the Middle East. I taught for a year there and then came over to South Africa, and I’ve been here for 17 years now.
Michael Hingson ** 02:49
Wow. What? What made you decide to go to South Africa? Well,
Jann Weeratunga ** 02:55
I was hoping it seemed like a good idea at the time. Yeah, there you go. Yeah, it was after the tsunami I had. I’d spent two years working on the east coast of Sri Lanka, I set up my own NGO. And I met people from all over the world. And on one occasion, we’d actually been down the coast this way and driving back and the army stopped us and sort of said, Did you know that there’s a tsunami warning? Why are you driving around and of course, where we had been, it had just been water and monkeys and us and that was about it. And in the car, there was myself, British, a friend who was from South Africa and another friend who was from Australia, and another friend who was from America. And it dawned on us, literally, as we were explaining who we were and where we were from, that we were four ladies from four different countries from four different continents. So yeah, it was it was a very different sort of thing. And from there I I made friends with them. And then one of them sort of said, Look, you know, would you like to come and visit South Africa? You know, I’ve I’m just finishing off here and my time is in Sri Lanka is finishing would you like to come visit? So I thought, Okay, why not? I’ve never been South Africa. And that’s what brought me here.
Michael Hingson ** 04:28
Pretty, pretty interesting scenario all the way around on but you never thought that was going to happen. Did you
Jann Weeratunga ** 04:36
know I didn’t. But, you know, life has a habit of sort of just taking you where it wants to. So yeah, it
Michael Hingson ** 04:44
was good. So we’re in South Africa, are you?
Jann Weeratunga ** 04:48
I’m actually in Johannesburg. So yeah, so inland about 1000 kilometers from the in gold country as they call it. eaglet and So yeah, I live up in Johannesburg.
Michael Hingson ** 05:03
So you, you have definitely moved around in the world. Have you been to America before?
Jann Weeratunga ** 05:10
I actually haven’t. I sort of came out of Britain and turned left instead of turning right. And I never got to the States or Canada is actually one country I would love to go to. It’s on my bucket list, along with Iceland and a few others. But yeah, I sort of got as far as as far east as Sri Lanka and as far as South and South Africa. So you know, all the bits in between there?
Michael Hingson ** 05:39
Well, I hope you do get to come to America. It’s a it’s a large country. fairly large physically, but certainly a lot of different cultures and different kinds of ways of life, depending on what state you’re in, and, and so on everything from relatively new in California, which became a state in 1850, compared to some of the other states like Massachusetts, in the other colonies much earlier. And I love to travel around America to see the various different kinds of pupils, the different cultures that have all assimilated into this one really great country, which is, which is a lot of fun to do. And it’s really enjoyable to to see the different states and everyone’s a little bit different.
Jann Weeratunga ** 06:25
Okay, okay. Yeah, no, it’s very big. I sort of looked at Washington State and thought that was a place I’d really like to go to, because it looks very green, and lots and lots of trees. So, you know, I’d like to travel around America if I get the opportunity. So you never know, hey, hey,
Michael Hingson ** 06:42
you never know. Well, I’m actually going to be in Washington State next month. So it’ll be it’ll be kind of find I’ve been there before and love going up to Washington. I love California as well. But I’ve enjoyed going to all 50 states now and just found a lot of wonderful stuff to see and do in all of those various states. So I can’t complain a bit. I find it to be rich and, and exciting. But I’ve been to a number of countries. I have not been to England, I’ve been to Ireland, and I’ve been to New Zealand. And of course, I’ve been to Canada, and to the Netherlands. And in Japan and Korea, but I haven’t really been to South Africa. I’d love to come and speak there some time. If the opportunity ever arises. I think it would be fun to do. And I’ve been to Israel. I went to Israel in August because I was there to be with accessibly for a week. And so again, I love going to a variety of different countries and experiencing and getting the chance to be a part of other cultures. So it’s great. Well, so you went to college in England?
Jann Weeratunga ** 07:57
I sort of Yeah, I was a bit of a dropout. Yeah, it some. I passed with straight A’s. My first two years and then I just decided, I don’t know, I don’t know what I decided. But I got a job. And I moved up very, very quickly, and I got paid way too much money. So I just decided that I wasn’t going to go back to college.
Michael Hingson ** 08:24
What was your job?
Jann Weeratunga ** 08:27
I was actually a highway maintenance engineer. I actually built roads.
Michael Hingson ** 08:31
Wow. That’s an interesting and different job. No, you enjoyed it.
Jann Weeratunga ** 08:39
I did actually it was your same thing. Two days on the trot, which was lovely. And I like sort of variation. I don’t like sort of being stuck in an office. That’s not really me. So yeah, I really I actually did, I really enjoyed it. And I worked with a great bunch of people. All men, I was the only woman I was the first woman into the department. So that was a little challenging to begin with. But they got used to me and yeah, and then eventually I left there to get married and go out to Sri Lanka.
Michael Hingson ** 09:13
So how long did you have that job? 10 years. Wow. So you you obviously did enjoy it?
Jann Weeratunga ** 09:20
Yeah, no, it was good.
Michael Hingson ** 09:22
So what do you do as a highway maintenance engineer?
Jann Weeratunga ** 09:25
Well, you basically dig up the road and relay it in in sort of very much layman’s terms. I actually was responsible for a section of the a 40 which is the sort of London to Oxford road. I was responsible for a section of that. And yeah, just making sure that everything on it was working well. It was supposed to it was kept clean. The lights were on. The Galley pots were cleaned out, there were no potholes. At one point we even managed to put a new footbridge across it which was They’re different. Yeah,
Michael Hingson ** 10:02
that’s definitely a different thing to do. But certainly I can understand why that would be part of your job. Yeah, yeah. Then what took you to Sri Lanka.
Jann Weeratunga ** 10:14
Um, my best friend from school was actually Sri Lankan. And we’d gone there when I was when I literally just finished my A levels. And we went out there for a trip. She came over to Ireland to see what Ireland was like. And I went over to Sri Lanka with her, you know, the parents thought it was good, sort of cultural exchanges for us. And I really liked the country. And then sort of 1010 odd years later, I hadn’t taken any holiday, I still run a scout troop. So every weekend that I had free and my suppose it holidays, whereas he spent scouting. And I just I got to the point, I was very, very tired. And I needed a break. And her dad actually said, Well, why don’t you go back to Sri Lanka? You know, lots of people out there still. You kept in touch go out there. And I did. And then I met my husband and six months of chewing and froing. And eventually, we he popped the question, and we got married, and I moved out there.
Michael Hingson ** 11:21
I’m assuming your parents were okay with that.
Jann Weeratunga ** 11:24
The Not really. She was the other side of the world as far as they were. Yeah. And it was way too far away. But he made sure that every year I actually went back to the UK for, you know, I actually chose your Christmas. Because that’s a very family orientated time for us. And unfortunately, he passed away after we’d been married about four and a half years. But I continue to stay out there for another six. The tsunami hit during that time. I also worked as the club secretary for what was at the time, the only the third golf course in the country rated in the top 10 in Southeast Asia, which was the Victoria golf club sat on struggling. So for Duncan golf union, which is actually where I was in 911. Yeah, I was actually at a golf meeting. And somebody said, Excuse me, I think you should all come and see the television. And we watched the plane. The second plane hit. So yeah, it’s for those ones. We know exactly where you were in what you were doing. Yeah,
Michael Hingson ** 12:41
most, most people do. Most people do remember that. And I’ve heard so many fascinating and interesting stories about where people were or why they ended up not being in the tower that day, although they were scheduled to be and even up on higher floors. It is one of those amazing things and there’s so many different stories. And a lot of people have stories to tell about it, which is pretty interesting.
Jann Weeratunga ** 13:08
Yeah. So the world stop moments a little bit like, I suppose, the shooting of JFK and, and of course, COVID More recently, you know, I think everybody knows where they were and what they were doing during COVID. Yeah, yeah,
Michael Hingson ** 13:26
we stayed home. My wife had rheumatoid arthritis. And so her immune system was suppressed and she took medication for it that helped the pain, but it did keep the immune system down. So we chose without any qualms at all to stay home, and basically locked down. We were blessed. We could could get things brought in through things like GrubHub and other things like that. And I did my shopping or an our shopping through a service called Instacart. That would bring things and it worked out really well. And we live very close to a country club here in Spring Valley lake in Victorville. And we joined a social members of the club. And although they didn’t deliver food, they had food available that you could go down and get, but we were friends with the general manager. And he said, anytime you want food, just call him we’ll bring it and they were. So we were we were blessed. That
Jann Weeratunga ** 14:21
sounds really, really good. It’s actually something it changed shopping, and how we shop in South Africa. Prior to COVID, everybody used to just go to the supermarket or go to the shops. And we didn’t have any delivery services. It didn’t exist in South Africa. And it’s actually created a whole industry of young men on motorbikes that deliver and I know in the UK, they had deliveries, but it sort of, after about a year it fizzled out and people got back to going shopping, you know, whereas here It is carried on, and people still get their shopping delivered from the local supermarket with these little guys. It’s good dude outside your house. And there they are. Yeah,
Michael Hingson ** 15:11
we have their word delivery services prior to prior to COVID. But it certainly did pick up a lot in COVID. And after COVID. And you’re right, it’s changed a lot of things. And we can view that as a positive thing or not. But I think overall, people are starting to discover, even with working that there’s no need to be in the office five days a week, eight or more hours a day that it’s healthier, to let people do some work at home, and do some of their work outside of the office.
Jann Weeratunga ** 15:49
Absolutely, absolutely. But I must admit, I think I saw more dogs being walked around my blog than I had ever seen. People tend not to take the dogs out too much. Yeah. They were very, very big plots, and the dogs run around on those. But of course, that was the only excuse we had initially to actually be able to leave our properties. So all the dogs had their little walkies on a regular basis every day. So that was quite interesting as well.
Michael Hingson ** 16:18
I’ve been to places in Europe and also talk to to other people who live there. And I guess it was fairly common, even well before COVID, to walk dogs and even see dogs go into stores or restaurants and so on. And it was a common thing. But the difference between there and here and correct me if I’m wrong. But the difference is that most all of those dogs were well behaved and they were controlled by their people.
Michael Hingson ** 16:51
Generally, yes, generally. And
Michael Hingson ** 16:54
unfortunately, here, people just think they should be able to take their dogs, whether they’re well behaved or not. And all too often, we see that dogs are not as well behaved as they should be. That creates a problem for those of us who use dogs like guide, like I use our my guide dog Alamo as a guide dog who’s trained. And then they tried to put restrictions and has put some restrictions on us, because of those other people that they wouldn’t really just deal with them appropriately. So it is it is a challenge. Yeah,
Jann Weeratunga ** 17:25
no, I know, from obviously the UK and Ireland, because my mum’s from Ireland, that, you know, taking the dogs out for a walk is commonplace. I mean, dad would always take the dog for a walk around the block at night, just you know, before we went to bed. And it was my brother and my job to sort of walk the dog down to the park and give them a good run during the day. So I think you know, so walking dogs, it was it was it was good, actually, because it’s a good form of exercise as well. And, you know, I mean, I would often sort of pop the dog into the car, drive up to the forest and go for a walk for two to three hours, you know, and then come back with a very tired dog. So yeah, well, that’s
Michael Hingson ** 18:07
that’s a good thing. Yeah. And sometimes attire, Jann, but but still, that’s probably.
Jann Weeratunga ** 18:14
Yeah, I wasn’t bad. In those days. It was bit younger. But the Yeah. Well, I
Michael Hingson ** 18:20
know one of the things about you is that you, you write you’re an author, when did you start writing?
Jann Weeratunga ** 18:25
I think I’ve always had an interest in poetry, and sort of wrote little details here and that sort of thing. But it was more or less when I came to South Africa, we owned a restaurant down in Nisa, which is on the coast, in very beautiful part of the country is just above the sort of Jitsi, karma, forest area. And I actually lived in a wooden cabin in the forest, where I didn’t spend much time there because I actually spent sort of like, six and a half days at the restaurant running it. But when I had spare time, I would actually just sort of sit on the deck. And just let my mind wander. And I started with the poetry. And then I started writing in seriously children’s stories in 2012, which was the start of the Paralympics.
Michael Hingson ** 19:27
So love to hear more about that. What got you started doing that? And well, let me ask first, did you publish any of your poetry?
Jann Weeratunga ** 19:38
Would you believe I actually only published my poetry last year? And that was because some friends had basically seen some of the poems and sort of said, Why haven’t you published the and I think it’s the difference between being judged by your peers and being judged by children. So so most of them My writing is actually for children. But my poetry is obviously for adults. And funnily enough, I actually took a couple of books with me, I went back to the UK in May to see my family. And I took a couple of books, and gave them as gifts to friends. And they actually sort of said, well, would you read a couple of poems for us, and so I read a couple of them, and they were in tears. And I didn’t think my poetry would have that much of an effect on people. So it was quite an eye opener for me. The other adult work I’ve done is I actually write adult short stories, dark stories, unfortunately. I know a couple of other authors that do the same. They write poetry, children’s books, and dark, short stories. And I think it’s a release from writing children’s stuff all the time is to write sort of the dark adult stuff. But I’ve actually not that I’m not public, I’ve got two books ready to go. They’ve been sitting there for a couple of years. And, and yeah, and there’s just a block there that the
Michael Hingson ** 21:10
public, are they going to be dark?
Jann Weeratunga ** 21:14
They are dark, all the short stories are very dark. And yes, but they’re there. I mean, one of one of them is actually a monologue, for example of a character who has schizophrenia. And so they’re obviously talking to themselves. And they’re on a plane. They I say they because it was it’s one person is on a plane, and the quieter voice of the two has actually arranged to be euthanized in Switzerland, which is legal. Without the other one, knowing what the other side of the venue knowing. And it’s this, this monologue, and that’s all it is, is this conversation the whole way through the story. And a few people that have read it have been, I think, quite shocked, because it’s not the sort of usual happy clappy stuff that I wrote for kids. Yeah. And they were saying, Okay, well, when is it publishing? Have you got any more? And can we read it? So sorry about that thing? I can’t stop that.
Michael Hingson ** 22:26
Look at JK Rowling. You know, she wrote the Harry Potter series, and now she’s writing the Cormoran Strike series. And I don’t know that I would say they’re, they’re darker, although I think the last Harry Potter book that she wrote was, was darker than the others. But she clearly throughout both series is a mystery writer. Because in one real sense, Harry Potter is all about mystery is being a mystery. Just the various things that go through it.
Jann Weeratunga ** 22:58
Yeah, I think the interesting thing with her work is the fact that it sort of it crossed genres. Yeah. And it was the first of all really strong, young adult series that came out really strong. And I think it defined it defined that that genre completely, you know, all those that don’t know, young adult is basically stories that don’t contain sex, or explicit violence as in blood, guts and gore type of thing. So So, and it’s actually turned out to be a very popular genre, because a lot of people, they don’t necessarily want that. But they want a good story, they will, you know, they don’t want to read children’s stories. They want to read adult stories, but they don’t want that side of it. So it’s quite interesting how it’s developed.
Michael Hingson ** 23:58
Well, I will say any number of adults like them, too. I would love to, I would love to see more Harry Potter books. But there is a new series that’s written by an American about one of his sons, James Potter, and five books have come out in that series, and they’re pretty good. And again, there’s some good mysteries in them. Well, so what got you started writing children’s books and the pirate Olympics and so on. I’d love to hear that story.
Jann Weeratunga ** 24:30
Okay, I have always loved watching the Paralympics more than the Olympics. Right from a very young child. I was glued to the TV for the Paralympics. And 12 was the London Olympics, which I personally feel changed people’s views towards disabilities in general. I think was a big leap forward for the disabled community at that particular point. But for me personally, it was, so Philip Craven, who’s paraplegic himself was giving the closing speech. And he was chatting away and sort of saying, you know, there was this mother with her son, and they were reading a book. And in the book, there was a character and he had a patch over one eye, a hook for a hand, and a wooden leg. And the mother turned around and she said to the boy, my boy, who’s this? And he said, Well, he’s got one eye, one arm, one leg, he must be a Paralympian. And it was like one of those light bulb moments you get you know, you you don’t think they exist. But it but actually it really did exist for me. And I suddenly thought, hang on a minute. Because he was talking about the pirates in Treasure Island. I thought pirates, Paralympics. Hang on a minute. There’s something here. So I googled, and I Googled, and there was nothing, nobody had written anything. There was no parallel drawn between pirates and Paralympics. So I started. I spoke to a friend and they and I said, Well, there’s nothing out there. Why is nobody written this story, you know? And they said, Well, why don’t you write that story? So I did. And then I sat on it. Again, I think fear of failure as much as anything else fear of judgment. Being a bit dyslexic, it’s sort of, I got really knocked by my English teacher at school. And so I lacked the confidence to actually pump in a publicize something. So or publish something. So I sat on it until 2016. And of course, the Olympics was round again. And the Paralympics were around again. And I found her and said, Come on your book. Enough now it’s got to go out. And so I did I put the first one out and it was very well received and I had a couple of very very young readers that read it me young eight year old turned around to me and said, is Polly real? A Poly is a parrot that was born with one I stolen from her nest in Africa, ends up in Scotland where she’s rescued by Captain hiker pirate and she learns to become a pirate. And and so I turned around, and it’s a little bit like those sort of questions about you know, is Father Christmas or Santa Claus real. And you never burst a child’s bubble. You never ever, in my, that’s my rules. You never destroy childhood. You allow a child to be a child for as long as they need to be. And so I chatted to him and I said, How many parents are there in the world? And he said, Ah, auntie, there must be millions. I said yes, because over here they everyday call everybody Auntie’s. If you go into a school, they’ll call you and your listing they call your auntie, or uncle. And then I said, and do you think any of them are called Polly? He sat down for a moment, he said, I reckon there must be I said, Well, there you go. You’ve answered your own question, haven’t you? So that was how Polly was created. And Polly creates the the Paralympics and they get up to all sorts of things, but they like made me realize Hang on. I mean, I need to actually do a little bit of a backstory here as to the story about Polly is the first one I wrote was just all about the sort of the actual games themselves you know, there’s a master chef competition and there’s a walk the plank and this time, the rigging gymnastics and what have you. And then I wrote the backstory, which was how they discovered the prosthetics. So my parents have blades and racing wheelchairs and prosthetic hands. And yeah, they they get up to all sorts of antics and lots of fun. So
Michael Hingson ** 29:26
you do you publish your own books, or do you have a publisher?
Jann Weeratunga ** 29:33
For these this set, I published my own books. I had a publisher for a book I wrote. I actually headed up during lockdown. I had it up nosology called locked down behind the mask. So I had a publisher that because for me, when everybody was wearing masks, it reminded me of when I lived in the Middle East and the burqa, and all you would see is the lady’s eyes. So I had a publisher for that one. But otherwise I self published. So they all went up on Amazon. I’m on the 10th. One at the moment. The Halloween Paralympics is finished, but that won’t be out until next year. So there’ll be two others come out before that one, so, but there’s seven on Amazon at the moment.
Michael Hingson ** 30:27
So you’ll have a ghost pack, you’ll have a ghost pirate.
Jann Weeratunga ** 30:31
There is a ghost pirates. Yes, they actually meet, they meet Captain Blackbeard and his ghostly crew. And they have to fight their way off his ship with the map, which is the map that takes them to the treasure, which, of course treasure is in the eye of the beholder. And that is their prosthetics.
Michael Hingson ** 30:50
That sounds like fun. Have you? Have you made sure that or have you done anything to make sure that the books are accessible? Like for blind people to be able to read? Are they? Are they put out in an accessible form like that at all? Do you know? At
Jann Weeratunga ** 31:09
the moment? No. I did have a gentleman that was with the Braille organization in Australia that wanted to actually have them, I suppose you call it translated it into Braille? And unfortunately, he never came back to me. So at the moment, no, I don’t I don’t have them on audio, audio is very expensive to do. And when I have so many books, because I’m actually up, I think I’ve been I’ve got over 40 children’s books. So you know, when you’re sort of producing a lot of books, it’s sort of keeping up with them. And when you don’t have a publisher, you have to do everything yourself. So you have to pay for the illustrations, you have to pay for the editing, you have to pay for the proofreading that cover everything that goes into a book, and it’s quite costly. So the additional cost of an audiobook is not not something I’ve yet been able to manage. But I’m still hopeful. So yeah, I’ll see what happens with that.
Michael Hingson ** 32:19
You might explore something like in this country, there’s the National Library Service for
Michael Hingson ** 32:27
blinding and well print handicapped, essentially, Vegas, originally National Library Service of the blind, physically handicapped, but it goes beyond that. Anyway, they oftentimes will take books that they think people will read or that are popular, and they will produce them. And the reason they will do that is that they are protected under copyright law. So they are only available for people who have some sort of print disability. But still, that’s a pretty good circulation. And what prompted me to ask the question was that I would think that people with disabilities could benefit from what you have to say as much as others do.
Jann Weeratunga ** 33:13
Yeah, I mean, for me, it’s especially children. I went into a school here, recall, and they have, it’s very, it’s a mixed school. So they have children with physical disabilities. Unfortunately, not blind children simply because the layout of the school is too dangerous for the kids to be able to navigate. But juggle, there was one young girl, for example, had a prosthetic leg. And I remember going in, and I gave a number of books into the school, and I did a whole day chatting to the kids about disabilities. Because I believe very much about educating young people. And I think, I mean, chatting to you, for me is a real privilege. Because I think very often, by the time we’re adults, we’re too embarrassed or nervous to ask questions. And because we don’t ask questions, we tend to avoid talking to somebody with a disability. And the children don’t have that same barrier. You know, that they don’t see color. They don’t see disability. When I describe it a little bit like you know, being inside the box looking out as opposed to adults who are outside the box looking in. And I very much believe that if we can have young people able bodied as well as disabled reading books were characters have disabilities and I mean, as you my books are a complete flip in in many ways. So the norm because most of my characters have disabilities As Of course, they’re pirates. So they’ve got something missing or they’re blind, or they’re deaf or whatever. So I’ve probably got about 80% of my characters that are actually disabled. Whereas most books may be, you might get 10% If you’re lucky. So for me, it’s important because young people, then able bodied and disabled can can read these books. And this particular young young lady I was talking to you about, I was invited back to the school about six weeks later. And she saw me across the car at the car park, and she came for flying over. And she flow her arms around me. And she said, auntie, auntie, thank you for writing that book for me. And I had this most enormous lump in my throat, that seems to be there for five minutes, I’m sure it was just only there for maybe five or 10 seconds before I could get, you know, regain my composure, because it had meant so much for her to be able to identify with other characters in the book, you know. So I think it’s very important that these stories are available to young people, as I say, both able bodied and disabled, because I think it gives an understanding, I think it gives an empathy and an education to both.
Michael Hingson ** 36:29
You not only does it I absolutely agree it, it does. And that’s again, one of the reasons I asked about audio or more another accessible version, I would, would think that
Michael Hingson ** 36:47
some people may shoot me for it. But with AI today, the so called artificial intelligence and the number of voices that are out there, that there ought to be some ways to convert the books relatively easily by comparison to even five years ago to audio, and then publish them. And
Jann Weeratunga ** 37:09
I did actually purchase a program that I can’t remember the name of it now, because I’m not techie minded, but I was advised that that was the best fit at the time. But it’s it sounds so mechanical. Yeah. It still didn’t, it didn’t flow and the emphasis wasn’t on the words. Right, what I felt the emphasis should be if you know what I mean. So I do, I have actually recorded I’m very lucky, I do some work with a local school here, I actually scribe for for some of the boys. And they allow me to use their music rooms, which are all sort of, you know, soundproof. So I’ve actually recorded some myself, I’ve got one of the books is actually up on YouTube. That’s the first of the poly books, and it’s up in four sections. But the whole book is actually actually up there. And that’s how Polly became a pirate. So I have actually sort of started this myself. And I’ve done it sort of through the YouTube roots. But yeah, there have
Michael Hingson ** 38:18
been so many great strides in voice technology. And so on that that even in six months, it might be a lot better. I don’t know, I’ve seen some some discussions where I think there might be some some good voice, artificial voice things that are a lot better. But certainly if you can do it, that would make a lot more sense to do by any standard.
Jann Weeratunga ** 38:44
Yeah, yeah. Let’s say and I quite enjoy reading my own stories as well to two kids. So it’s, it’s something I enjoy doing as well.
Michael Hingson ** 38:54
There are now some programs that can take your voice and create unlimited vocabulary speech. If it has enough of your voice to learn from how do we find your books? While you’re one book on YouTube? Let me ask that.
Jann Weeratunga ** 39:14
Row. I think basically, you just go January Tonga, YouTube, and it will come up. Okay. How Polycom virus Yeah, I think I
Michael Hingson ** 39:23
look for it. I have to go look for it. I want to read about Polly
Jann Weeratunga ** 39:29
Okey doke. Good. So
Michael Hingson ** 39:31
is writing kind of full time job for you? Or do you have other work that you do to help income or what?
Jann Weeratunga ** 39:38
No writing is my full time job. That is what I do. I love writing for kids. It’s a real I think it’s a passion. You know, you either love it or you just don’t go near it. And prior to COVID I used to be in schools two, three times a week. I was always is in a school somewhere up here. I even did a tour down on the Eastern Cape and took a couple of other authors with me. So, yeah, it’s, it’s become literally full time. And at the moment I’m putting out a book roughly one book a month? Well, I
Michael Hingson ** 40:19
think I think it’s really important that your books, get out there and get visible. And so since it is your full time job, I’m assuming that you do write every day.
Jann Weeratunga ** 40:33
I pretty well write five days a week, I tried to just have a bit of time off at the weekends, sort of family time, but Monday to Friday. The house is quiet by six o’clock, everybody else’s. So I actually sit then, and I write usually to that too. And then whatever sort of household bits and pieces need to be sorted out or shopping or whatever, whatever gets done in the afternoon, so but yeah, I put a good six hours in and it’s a bit like people that do physical exercise, you know, you build up your muscles, and is a sort of, I believe it’s like building up your mental muscles. You know, the more you write. I mean, I picked up, Polly, I haven’t written Polly for quite a long time actually. I wrote a younger series, because a lot of people came to me and said, can’t Can’t you write a pirate series for younger children as well. So I had the patches pirate pals. And for a year, we literally put out a book a month, or 12 books out there on that series No, like on? Yeah.
Michael Hingson ** 41:44
Are those books, oh,
Jann Weeratunga ** 41:46
they’re all short little 32, page eight by 10 inches by 10. But those ones, I’ve actually left the illustrations to be colored in by the kids because I feel, especially with boys, they tend to be a bit more than sort of reluctant readers and you hear coloring in it sort of attaches them to the book, and they gain a bit more of an interest in the book. And from that you gain an interest in the words and the story, etc, etc. So that whole series was like that. I’ve just produced one from my niece. She’s three in two weeks time. And she actually was my my illustrating editor, he saw the pictures and either like them or didn’t, which was quite interesting. So my poor illustrator had to redo a couple. And I’d given her a toy dinosaur Bronwyn, the dinosaur. And my sister said to me at one point, you can’t see anything except purple because Bronwyn eating the phone. And that was because I’ve sent the picture of Bronwyn, for my niece to approve. And so she was actually using the dinosaur to kiss the phone to those he liked it. So yeah. So but that one’s a mixture of color, color and drawing. And so there is a color picture. And an opposite is the same picture just as an outline. And the kids can either use the same colors or their own imaginations. And I believe very much in that as well. I think it’s very important that young people use their imaginations, you know, things have changed from from when we were children. You know, when we were kids, we would play outside, we would, you know, almost have fights with brothers or sisters or mock fights or, you know, we played cowboys and Indians or whatever it was we were doing, we do it. And we maybe would watch television for an hour in the evening, sort of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Weekends was always sports. So that was dad’s time type of thing. But today, it’s changed. And we didn’t have computers, we didn’t have smart telephones, we didn’t have any of those things. You know, we used to sit there and do this huge Jigsaw which was four foot by four foot square, on our dining room table, you know, every evening was in pieces in type of thing. But today, it’s changed. And I think young kids are in a way missing out and missing out on the opportunity to expand their imaginations because so much is spoon fed to them. So much as you know, Google is wonderful. I fall down the rabbit hole with Google all the time when I’m researching my books. And some of the stuff I come I find is just absolutely mind blowing. But it gives you everything. And I think with young people, if they’re given too much, they don’t use their imaginations that so that’s one of the reasons why I like to. I’ve, I’ve created I’ve actually created two journals. which a guided journal is for very young children to start journaling, you know, so it sort of helps them guide them through. And that’s actually part of the practice part ELS series, which is really aimed at sort of four to seven year olds, they’re very young ones, maybe up to nine, depending on, you know, ability levels. But it’s getting them to use their imagination, to write their story, their poem, draw their drawing, or coloring with the colors that they want to use. And if they want to give somebody green hair, that’s fine. They know what color hair is. But let them use their imagination. Let them be creative.
Michael Hingson ** 45:42
We don’t do nearly enough of that. And I absolutely agree with you. The the problem with so much television is that everything is just for store, everything is there, there’s no imagination. It didn’t used to be that way. Even in television, of course, early in televisions era, there was, it was an issue where you had both television and radio. And so people were were used to helping individuals use their imagination. But the longer television has gone on, the more we just put everything out there and there’s nothing left for a person’s imagination. I collect old radio shows as a hobby, and I love listening to old shows, because they still make you use your imagination. And even now, there are new series. And again, people have to use their imagination and fill in a lot of blanks that are deliberately left and can’t be there because there are no pictures to look at. So you’ve got to do it. And I think television should do more of that.
Jann Weeratunga ** 46:52
Yeah. And books as well. I mean, I think books are wonderful. You know, when I go into in schools, and I open the book, and I say to the children, right, what am I doing? And I’m literally I’m standing there and I’m opening a book, okay? And they say you’re opening a book? And I say, Yes, but what else am I doing? And they look puzzled. And I said, I’m opening up the pages to your imagination. And then what is imagination? What is it? And I remember one youngster gave a wonderful definition that it’s like dreaming, but your eyes are open. But the story is in your head, and you can see it like a film, attitude. And I thought that is exactly it. Because I know, when I write my books, when I’m writing about Polly, especially Polly, Polly has a very she’s very special. Polly and my parents are very special. They, that’s my comfortable place. Whenever I go back to Holly. And I can see her, I can hear she’s almost talking in my ear. When I’m writing her. It’s a weird sort of relationship that I think a writer has with their characters. But she’s so real for me. It’s almost like she’s speaking. And I’m just using my hands to write the words if that makes any sense. Yeah. So it’s, it’s wonderful. From my point of view, because I can just let my imagination go all over the place, you know. And then when you actually are reading the story, and you watch the kids faces, it is so special. Because you can see, they can see it in their heads. They can take their imagination, they can see the pictures, like a little film, you know? Yeah.
Michael Hingson ** 49:05
Well and and that’s the way imagination should be now, here’s a question does skip and where Polly ended up does Polly have a Scottish accent? Sort of
Jann Weeratunga ** 49:17
weird actually. And he definitely has a Scottish accent. And all of his crew do. He has a cruiser quite there’s nine crews and they each have quite definitive accent so the the Caribbean Jamaican crew has very Caribbean the turbaned Indians very much the cowboy Americans very much with an American lil. So each each crew I’ve actually given their own voice, which is important because it also brings diversity for the kids to understand the world is quite a big place that we live in. So we’ve got tattooed Maori And we’ve got Scandinavians, we’ve got Scots, we’ve got Zulus, we’ve got Greek goddesses, we, you know, we’ve got the the Japanese ninjas, you know, there’s all these different crews that are very different. But they all belong to the fellowship of pirates, right?
Michael Hingson ** 50:21
That’s really the issue, isn’t it?
Jann Weeratunga ** 50:24
Yeah. Yeah. You know, what am I realize we’re actually all the same, we all want the same things.
Michael Hingson ** 50:31
One of the things that I talked about, on the podcast, I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it today, because people hear it enough. But you talked about able bodied and disabled people, I work to try to get people to understand that disability doesn’t mean and I know you’re saying somewhat the same thing. disability does not mean a lack of ability. Disability is a characteristic. And I would submit that everyone has a disability, everyone in the world. And for most of you, as I tell people, it’s like dependents, you know, when the lights go out, and you don’t have an iPhone, or a smartphone of any sort, or a flashlight nearby, you’re in a world of hurt, because you can’t see what you’re doing. So I submit that we need to get away from making a distinction between so called Able bodied and persons with disabilities, because everyone has one. And what we really need to do is to recognize that disability is a characteristic, and it manifests itself in different ways. Yeah,
Jann Weeratunga ** 51:32
yeah. 100% 100%. I mean, it’s even down to one, you might disagree with me on this. But if all you’ve ever wanted to do is ride a bicycle, and you have no sense of balance, and you cannot ride a bicycle, you are effectively disabled. You are disabled from being able to ride a bicycle. Now, people argument they know that that’s not really a proper disability. Sure,
Michael Hingson ** 52:03
it is. It’s a it’s a characteristic.
Jann Weeratunga ** 52:06
Exactly. Exactly. And I think that’s, I think you and I are very much on the same page for this. And I know we had a little chat for a few months about that back end. Back
Michael Hingson ** 52:17
in the day. Yeah, it’s been a while.
Jann Weeratunga ** 52:21
Yeah, we touched on it. But But But I agree 100% I think we all have a disability. But one of the things I do say is disability does not mean inability, correct.
Michael Hingson ** 52:33
It does not mean a lack of ability, it just means you have something.
Jann Weeratunga ** 52:39
Yes. And I think each each gift is different. And it makes us see the world in a different way. So for example, because I have dyslexia, I have to work a little bit harder. With my writing. There’s nothing wrong with my grammar, there’s nothing wrong with the my my word order, or the words I use, until I try and type them and then very often they can come out backwards, or I mean to this day, if I type the word, the, I can guarantee guarantee 90% of the time, it comes out HTTP II. Okay, and that’s, and my fingers know what they should be doing. To this date, they know what they should be doing. But
Michael Hingson ** 53:29
they know what you want them to do, but they have their mind of their own.
Jann Weeratunga ** 53:33
They do return. So bit of what I’m trying to say there is that, you know, disability, if you if you look at the figures as such, they say that between 20 and 25% of the world is disabled. Those are the disabilities that can be measured. The other 75% they also have disabilities, they just don’t admit to it. Right, exactly right. And now the stigmas that are attached to disability. And again, that’s why inside the box looking out outside the box looking in, which starts for me with children, because if you are a child inside the box with others use you just as I said earlier, kids don’t see disability, they’re just friends, right? They all get on with each other. And if somebody can’t do something, they’ll help them or if they won’t help them, they’ll believe them or whatever. But the kids will learn to stand up for themselves. And they will get through that
Michael Hingson ** 54:30
until adults until adults get in the way.
Jann Weeratunga ** 54:33
And so the adults get in the way Exactly. But But what I’m saying is when that group of children become adults, and that’s where we haven’t got that that’s why I believe we haven’t got to yet. We’re getting there but it’s not got there yet. When that group of children become adults, because they’ve grown up with a whole range of people, different races, different colors, different abilities. It’s just normal, it’s what’s around them. Whereas at the moment, we’re having to constantly play catch up. And we’re having to put into companies and businesses, the the structures for people with disabilities to be able to go to work.
Michael Hingson ** 55:23
As long as those,
Jann Weeratunga ** 55:25
it will just automatically be there. Because those are going to be the new bosses,
Michael Hingson ** 55:30
as long as they don’t forget. As long as they don’t forget.
Jann Weeratunga ** 55:35
But that’s if we don’t interfere. Right.
Michael Hingson ** 55:41
So when is Polly going to be in a movie?
Jann Weeratunga ** 55:46
Oh, my goodness, the big question. Yes, I’ve actually finally sorted out my pitch. And that’s taken a long time. And I’ve actually a gentleman called Steve Longley. He has been my fairy godfather. He produced Hacksaw Ridge, which is a slightly different type of movie to what we’re probably going to be. But he’s been a real mentor. And that’s why I’m giving you a little bit of a shout out to him, because he doesn’t have to help me. He doesn’t know me from a bar. So I introduced myself on LinkedIn to him one day, which is, of course, how I met met Sheldon and through Sheldon, you. And he, he’s given me so much confidence. So my pictures ready. I’m helping a friend launch their book tomorrow, which has taken up most of the last two weeks. And once that’s done, I’m actually going to be going out to producers and directors to see if I will hook somebody that will actually produce it. Because to me, it’s important. And I think whether it becomes a TV series or a movie, I don’t mind, it probably lends itself more to animation, simply because so many of the characters have disabilities. And I think the insurance for that, in real life would would go through the roof on a movie set? I don’t know, but I think so. But it leads me on also to something again, that we touched on before. And that was basically when we were talking about actors, disabled actors. And at the moment most most actors sort of literally have a wheel on reel off for a walk on walk off part. There are no real central characters based around disability or very, very few very emerge now. There’s one or two sort of characters that are, you know, building up or what have you. But one of the things I’ve been advocating for is, why can’t disabled actors do voiceovers and dubbing there’s nothing stopping them to do those doing those things. We need
Michael Hingson ** 57:56
to we need to talk offline about some of that because there’s an organization called Radio enthusiast of Puget Sound and a whole group of people who are blind. And the president of that organization also is the lead in a radio Well, internet radio stations called yesterday usa.net. And there’s a red network in a blue network, like there is on a piece on NBC in the golden days of radio. And there actually is some work being done to try to create some programs to encourage blind people to go into doing more audio type stuff. So we should talk about that offline.
Jann Weeratunga ** 58:39
I think so. I think so. Yeah.
Michael Hingson ** 58:43
Speaking of Washington, that’s what we’re going to do next month is go up and do for radio show recreations. And I and some other blind people and non blind people are all going to be parts of the show. Now
Jann Weeratunga ** 58:54
that’s so cool. It’s so cool. I’ve got a friend here, Lois. And she’s just done an art exhibition. And I found it. It was a concept that I found quite difficult to get my mind around, obviously. You know, how can somebody who’s blind do an art exhibition, but she’s actually working with a group of people down in Cape Town, a group of blind students found in Cape Town, and some have maybe 10% site up to they have just a little bit but not very much, you know, and they’re doing amazing, amazing work and I and I think just bringing more of this it needs to be funded, it needs to be supported. I mean, South Africa there’s no funding for anything. We don’t have electricity most of the time internet sometimes and water when they feel like it. But, but but, you know, in Western countries where there is a little bit more money, I think these things need to be fun. Need more supported a lot more than they are? And I suppose, unless we started up and start shouting, it won’t happen. And so that’s one of the reasons why I want to see my pirates and poly made into either a film or set of films or a TV series. Again, because it’s something that everybody can enjoy. Maybe
Michael Hingson ** 1:00:23
well, Todd, what can I do? Sorry? Maybe we also want to explore making it into an audio series. Hmm,
Jann Weeratunga ** 1:00:34
I think so. I think so. Yeah, definitely.
Michael Hingson ** 1:00:37
How do we increase the conversation around disabilities and get people? I know, you’ve talked about one way as children grow up, but what else can we do as adults to break through some of those barriers and get the conversation? more a part of the mainstream?
Jann Weeratunga ** 1:00:59
Oh, gosh. Well, I think number one, we have to identify the problems. And I think the main problems are and I’m going to talk about disability disabled and able bodied, if you will, just sort of entertain me on that. The more able bodied, shall we say? folk out there feel awkward talking to people with disabilities, they will shun away from speaking to somebody with a disability, they will avoid going to help somebody with a disability. And I think it’s just such a stigma. And it’s not the disabled person. I don’t think it’s the individual. It’s just the whole sphere of disabilities. And I, I’ve watched LinkedIn recently, and there’s a lot more out there and a lot more stories coming out. And I think I think that’s a really good thing. And I think things like I know, the Paralympics does focus on the physical, and the Disabilities is a lot more than that. I mean, people in wheelchairs are only 8% of those with disabilities. Yeah, what is the symbol that we use for the disabled? It’s, it’s a word character in a wheelchair. Right. Yeah. You know, so. And I know there is a movement towards possibly changing that. I don’t know how why is that is, in the sense that I understand why, but at least is recognized as a symbol for disabled. You know, there’s pros and cons around everything. Yeah. And I think I think we just have to talk more, I think there needs to be, I think, all right, I think people are frightened. It’s like when I first spoke with Lois, because I think she was the first blind person I spoke with. And I said, Louis, can I ask you a question? Should you ask me anything? But I thought I had actually say, may I ask you the question? Because I felt awkward. I didn’t want to cause offence. I didn’t want to be rude. I didn’t want to say something that will upset. And I think that’s part of it. With a lot of people. And we have to get over it. We have and I think that’s what Sheldon did that for me. Actually, he was wonderful. We had an hour long chit chat. And I was chatting to him about how to use some of the analytics in LinkedIn and stuff as well, you know, stuff he had, and been able to do, and what have you. And it was so nice, because I felt so much more comfortable at the end of the conversation than obviously, I had at the start of the conversation. And I think just the more able bodied people, a person is, they just need to get over it. They just need to start talking to people. But it’s our and it’s hard. And that’s why I go back to kids because I think, you know, to a degree we have to start with young people and educate them and bring them through the system. But then what do we do with all of us old is sitting at the top end.
Michael Hingson ** 1:04:20
But the awkwardness is more of a learned behavior than anything else. We we don’t like to think that just because someone is different than us. They’re necessarily at the same level we are. And we we grow up learning that which is in part why I said I hoped that children today don’t forget as they grow up, because it’s a learned behavior. And you’re right. It’s great to start with children, and the more children get to be involved in the conversation and carry on the conversation. and don’t have the fear, the better it is, oh,
Jann Weeratunga ** 1:05:03
well, I’ll give you an example on something. My niece, as I mentioned earlier is going to be three. One of the things my sister did with her, when for about six months on, she taught her how to sign. Now my niece isn’t there. But there’s a movement in the UK to teach babies to sign. Because they can sign I’m hungry, I’m full. I would like more. And, you know, I mean, there’s obviously a lot more signs than those, I’ve just taken three, the very basic ones, they can do that six to eight months before they can speak up. So they can communicate on a level to express themselves, which also reduces frustration, and anger. And I’m actually trying to learn there’s a guy called the Deaf chef on Instagram, and I’m following him. And every day, he comes out with a new sign. And I’ve been trying to learn some of those number one, so I can keep up with my knees and get better at styling than I am. But also, sign language actually just became 12 official language in South Africa. And I went to a restaurant one day, and there was a lady there. And I asked her a question, and then she sort of put her hand to it yet and said, you know, yeah, basically, you know, was was telling me she was deaf. So I wrote it down, because I couldn’t sign. But the only thing I had looked say was, thank you. So at the end of the conversation, I actually just gave the sign of Thank you. And her face just lit up. It was the only thing I knew how to do. But have it made her day. You know? And and I just think that we we need to all make more of an effort, I suppose. And I think things like, Why can’t say why can’t we have sign language in schools? You know, over here, we have 11 languages, and they’re all taught in school. So why can’t we have some language taught and useful? The more we communicate, the more we talk to each other. The more I think barriers will come down. And we’ve got to get over this stigma of disability. And again, it’s that word, isn’t it? disability?
Michael Hingson ** 1:07:25
And only YouTube anytime we need to learn it doesn’t mean Yeah, because it’s not a lack of ability.
Jann Weeratunga ** 1:07:30
Michael Hingson ** 1:07:33
If people want to reach out to you and learn more about you, how do they do that?
Jann Weeratunga ** 1:07:38
Okay, so they can they can email me. And I’ve actually, I think I’ve given you some of my links. Yeah,
Michael Hingson ** 1:07:48
we’ll go ahead and spell out email if you want to or whatever. Go ahead and say it here as well, please. Okay,
Jann Weeratunga ** 1:07:54
what is quite a complicated kind of fortunately, but it’s, it’s, well, I’ll give you my easy one. I’ve got one which is Jann Weeratunga, which is? No, maybe that’s not the easier one. I think they’ll probably is. It’s J a n S Jans, Pics P i C S. SA for South africa@gmail.com. Jan’s pics SA for South Africa,
Michael Hingson ** 1:08:21
at Gmail. com. That’s pretty easy. Great. Well, I want to thank you for being here. And we will be putting the book covers and all the other things up in the cover notes. And I hope people will reach out this has clearly been fun and fascinating. And I want to continue our discussions later offline. We got to do some of that. And I think it will be a lot of fun to have you back on again when the next poli book comes out and talk about that and other things as well. So we really appreciate you being here. And of course, I want to thank you all for listening out there. We are very grateful that you do we’d love you to please give us a five star rating wherever you’re listening to unstoppable mindset
Michael Hingson ** 1:09:03
today, please give us a five star rating we appreciate that and we appreciate your comments and reviews. If you’d like to reach out to me you can do it by emailing me at Michaelhi at ccessibe.com Michael is m i c h a e l  h i at accessiBe A C C E S S I B E.com. And also you’re welcome to go to our podcast page www dot Michael hingson.com/podcast and hingson is h i n g s o n but we want to thank you again for listening. I really appreciate it hope you enjoy this and as I said we want your comments and your five star reviews we value that very highly. And then again chan I want to thank you one last time for being on with us today and and talking to us about so many different things and we clearly we have to continue this on another podcast episode.
Jann Weeratunga ** 1:09:55
Absolutely. And thank you so very much for having me. It’s been an absolute pleasure. I’ve really really enjoyed it. Thank you.
**Michael Hingson ** 1:10:06
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com . AccessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for Listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.

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