Shining a light on disabled lives in Jamaica

Hi, I’m Dexter and I am a photography graduate of Middlesex university on a mission to bring media attention to living with disabilities, and this time around, I’m focusing on my home country of Jamaica. I use photography to show the struggles faced by the disabled, but more importantly, their strengths.

Disabled people of Jamaica are relatively unheard voices. There is no real support (financial or otherwise) and certainly nothing to make them feel as if they can make a meaningful contribution to society. For example, the idea that you can go to university with a disability and study just isn’t an opportunity open to young, disabled Jamaicans.

With this project, my focus is to increase the visibility of the disabled community in Jamaica but also raise awareness of the fact that similar struggles are faced by people with disabilities worldwide, particularly in the world’s poorest countries.

There are many places globally where there is a lack of support and opportunity and a huge stigma placed on those with disabilities by the rest of society within those countries.

I was born in March of 1993 in Kingston, Jamaica. It took my mother a couple of months to detect my disability. I couldn’t sit up like other babies. I was officially diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at six months. My mother’s family was solidly behind me growing up, while my father’s family were not. A friend of my mother’s advised her to put me in a home, but she refused and instead gave me all the support I needed as a child.

After my fifth birthday, I was enrolled in a primary school in Kingston. There we had just one room for disabled pupils with no dedicated facilities. It was an unforgettable experience for me. I used to crawl around on my knees to get around both my school and my home. These horrible experiences, I believe, played a vital role in allowing me to develop a strong and determined personality in later years.

In 2002 I migrated to London at the age of nine with my mum and my sister. It took me an additional two years to enrol in a disabled school. Once enrolled, I had never seen so many disabled students in one school, each with wheelchairs and other modern facilities allocated according to their individual needs.

This really opened my eyes to how disabled people can be loved, encouraged and supported by others and each other. I am not a politician, but I will use the project I make in any way that I can to influence people in power here in the UK and in Jamaica to bring about change for the disabled community. This is deeply personal to me, and I am on a mission to make a difference. I need your help to do this.

I need to travel to Jamaica with my support worker to take photographs of people living there, in their own environments.

This project is already in motion. I have match funding from Autograph ABP, and funding form a prior campaign.

However, the costs involved are still very high. To deliver this project to its full potential I will need to cover my personal access costs such as travel and accommodation for both myself and support worker, as well as a budget laptop to back up my images, food allowance, fair payments for individual subjects, and insurance.

While in Jamaica, I will take portrait photographs of disabled people in Kingston with the objective of telling the story of their lives, the poverty faced and the challenges they encounter every day as a result of their disabilities.

Over two weeks I aim to visit three communities. In order to do this properly, I need the help of my support worker. I want to interview my subjects as well and get to know a little bit about their lives as I’m shooting, so I can write about their stories when I publish a book of the project. In order to ensure my communication and time is best spent, my support worker is key.

I need £4000.


If you can’t donate, you can still play an important role in helping me turn my project into a reality by sharing a link to my crowdfunding page with as many people as possible!

I will be sharing updates of my progress with this project on my page and with my donors.

Thank you so much,

Dexter McLean


Keep up to date with me and my plans on my social media


"Every so often you come across a photographer with a truly unique voice. A photographer who's own personal experience means he can tell a story in a way nobody else can. Dexter McLean is one of those photographers. I've seen his work - it's strong, insightful and at times confrontational.

I know from personal experience that it’s not easy working in the world of photography with a disability. People are quick to judge what you can and cannot do based on their opinions. Dexter has his own challenges in life and has overcome a great deal of challenges - but when it comes to photography - his work should be judged on its own merits and in my opinion, is great and shows huge potential."
- Giles Duley, Photographer

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Dexter McLean 
John Perrin Place, Harrow

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