Black and blind bar grad speaks of smashing ‘triple-glazed glass ceiling’ to pursue barrister dream

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By William Holmes on

‘I know I’m giving hope to others in similar situations,’ says Jessikah Inaba

Jess Inaba -credit: LinkedIn

A bar course grad who used braille during her legal studies is understood to be the first blind and Black woman to be called to the bar of England and Wales

Jessikah Inaba, 23, successfully navigated her way through five years of university by making her own braille notes and transcribing lecture notes.

She was also able to rely on friends to read to her while the University of Law (ULaw) where she studied the bar course provided additional one-on-one sessions to help support her when accessibility to books was impeding her studies.

“It’s been crazy — I still can’t really believe I’ve done it,” explained Inaba. “One day I’ll wake up and realise how amazing this is.”

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“It was hard and I often thought of giving up, but my supportive family gave me courage and strength. I always believed in myself from the start — there’s nothing about me which means this isn’t possible,” she said.

“I know I can do this job really well, and the more people like me who go through training the easier it will become,” Inaba continued. “It’s a really good feeling, I know I’m giving hope to others in similar situations to mine. There’s a triple glazed glass ceiling.”

Noting that Inaba “is the first black and blind student to study at The University of Law”, a spokesperson from the law school giant said: “We are extremely proud of Jess’ achievements and we know she will be an inspiration to all students, showing that you can succeed in the face of physical challenges.”

Inaba, who was born with bilateral microphthalmia, a condition which results in babies being born with smaller than usual eyes, now plans to apply for pupillage when applications open in January.

In court she uses an electronic machine with a braille keyboard which enables her to listen, read and edit easily just using her hands.

Mrs Justice McGowan, the treasurer of Inaba’s Inn, Middle Temple, added:

“Being called to the bar is a remarkable achievement. Being called to the bar as a blind person is truly remarkable. The commitment and tenacity she has shown demonstrates that she will be a great success.”