Annette Kearney, 29, is working hard to turn her passion into a business.
"I've been doing it for a long time now," she said. "I just like to be able to show people that someone with a disability can do photography as well."
The Maitland resident was joined by six other entrepreneurs with intellectual disabilities on Tuesday at the Civic Digest, where they pitched ideas for new startups to business people, council staff and academics.
The event was part of a new 18-month course in Newcastle, which aims to equip people with intellectual disabilities with the skills they need to sustain their own micro-business.
Ms Kearney is working on her startup "Dolphin Galaxies" with her brother. The pair are setting up an online freelance photography business, as well as a travel blog offering advice and reviews to people with disabilities.
Jonathan Bridge, 21, of Raymond Terrace is looking at how he can make one of his favourite activities - playing board games - accessible to people with differing intellectual and physical abilities.
He is working out how he can modify games to make them more inclusive, for example, projecting games onto a large screen so they are easier for people with low vision to participate in.
Mr Bridge hopes to have his gaming club funded as a service through the NDIS.
"This is what I want to give to the world," he said. "It's too early to know if it's going anywhere but I am trying."
Amparo Morgan, 34, of The Hill, is trying to get the word out about her pet minding and dog walking business. She would like to run the business while continuing her work as a cleaner.
"Just something to ensure there's someone out there that people can count on to look after their animals," she said.
Challenge Community Services' Beth Innes, who designed and secured government funding for the program, said that finding work in an area of interest was particularly difficult for people with intellectual disabilities, and self-employment was one way to address that.
"A lived experience of having a disability also gives you ideas that other people don't see," she said.
The program matches the students to mentors who also have a disability. Amparo Morgan has been developing her pet care idea with disability advocate Melanie Schlaeger.
"She's helped me with my speech today," Ms Morgan said.
"She's just a good person to talk to. I'm a bit shy. Public speaking is not really my thing. Everybody's been coming up to me saying how well I did, that made me feel a lot better."
Article by The Newcastle Herald May 1, 2019 click here to view