Blair Webb is a 24 year-old breath of fresh air with talents and plans. You know as soon as she wheels into sight, that you are in the presence of intelligence visible in her smile and reflected in her eyes. She is smart, witty, joyful, adorable, loving, talented and, as of this year, a UC Berkeley student with plans to create programs for children with disabilities. Having been a child with a disability, Blair knows a lot about what girls need and has a plan with hopes that American Girl will offer dolls to reflect an array of disabilities so that every little girl will have the joy of seeing herself reflected as a part of American culture. She says she wants, “Different stories of different girls. Lots of little girls with disabilities. This would make them feel better about themselves. There is not one for a girl with a disability. So I am trying to explain that and submit it.”
Blair uses a wheelchair and even though her manual motions are limited, she has found that thanks to her special keyboard fitted with larger buttons, as she types she has it clear on the screen. Her smooth clear writing does not suffer at all. When she joined Performing Arts Studio West under the direction of founder John Paizis, she found that people believed in her abilities. She says, “It is about looking at the abilities and not the disabilities.” She has been in a show written by John Paizis. She is smiling as she talks, “It was so fun.” And she has done some of the writing with John. She hopes to spend her life writing plays so that whatever is inside her can get out. She also writes short stories about her camp experiences.
After five years at PASW, while studying sociology at her local college, with her skills honed, she is off, at the age of twenty-four, to conquer whatever mountains she wants to scale.
What does she want people to know about her? What is the most important thing to her about life? She says no one has asked her that before, but her answer came quickly. She wants people not to judge her by her disability, and to try to get to know her as a person. Getting to know Blair as a person is a very easy matter. When in Blair’s company, it is her abilities, her spark and that smile that take center stage. She is best-known as super-smart and witty. You can the devotion of her friends who light up as she approaches them. Her disability? Really not relevant to who she is. It is that intelligence, wit, joy, spark, loving nature and talent that define her.
Does she write love letters? She says she emails instead, although she has a boyfriend in Florida, an older sister not so far away, parents only halfway down the state, and a slew of friends who adore her. Happy as they all are for her having been accepted into UC Berkeley and for whatever adventure she finds next, they must be sad to see her leaving their midst.
Perhaps Blair will come to see that anyone in her life would surely love to get a real letter from her, something they could put in the treasure box and read over and over as they years marched on. But Blair is young and very much a modern girl. Would her sister be happy to get a letter in the mail? Blair laughs and says, “she would probably think that it’s weird.” Maybe yes and maybe no, but the idea has been planted, and perhaps one of these days Blair, who is, after all, a writer, will put her heart to paper and send it to some of the people in her life.
To hear Blair talk about her life and her plans via the simultaneous interpretation of her assistant Megan Gil is to look at a beautiful friendship, the essence of cooperation, and the joy of listening in order to understand. Blair Webb is just one more lesson in forging right ahead with what you want to accomplish in life and knowing that you can have a very good time doing it.