Overcoming the challenges of disability


Filmed and edited by Brian Osweta Otieno

To paint with mouth may not sound like an easy thing to do. Rosie Moriarty is an artist campaigning for persons with disabilities’ rights. As a writer and a business woman, she is working on a project offering training for disabled people.

Rosaleen Moriarty-Simmonds is a thalidomide artist campaigning for persons with disabilities’ rights. She was born without arms or legs after her mother was prescribed thalidomide in pregnancy. At the age of 14, she joined Treloar School in Alton, which was, at that time, the only school in the UK to offer an academic education for students with disabilities. She was the first disabled student to enroll at Cardiff University, graduating in 1985 with a B.Sc in Psychology.

With a special technique, Rosie uses her mouth to grab the brush and paint. “I have taken up painting and has been accepted as a student member of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists. I’m thalidomide, but I can use my mouth and do painting.” She said. She managed to paint various paintings that look professional according to the art lovers. She can use the pencil as well as the brush. For her, she think that she can do like anyone else.


Photo: CNP

In June 2007, Rosie completed and published her autobiography – Four Fingers and Thirteen Toes. It was re-published in 2009. “It is an autobiography of me, but at the same time I focused on the history of drugs and its impact on young people’s life,” she said. The book includes inspirational written true story, about a woman born without limbs as a result of Thalidomide, interspersed with the factual history surrounding this contentious drug. Rosaleen, a strong willed daughter, wife, mother and respected businesswoman, born into an Irish immigrant family, writes about her life and the journey of Thalidomide from Nazi Germany to now. The artwork for the book cover simply comes from a photograph taken of her with her favorite doll when she was 2 years old.

After graduating Rosie worked in the civil service at Companies House for seven years, at Executive Officer level. In 1995 she established RMS Disability Issues Consultancy, which offers specialist  training. “My role is to give training to people with disability. I encourage them and provide them with the inspiration. It is my business for more than 20 years.” She said. She has appeared in many radio and television programmes. During 2012 she presented four programmes called ‘Rosie’s World’ and hopes to be commissioned again by BBC Radio Wales, to present a new series of ‘Rosie’s World’.


Thalidomide Memorial    Photo: CNP
Rosie campaigned for the Thalidomide Memorial in Alexandra Gardens. Her name is written on one side of this memorial with the aim of publishing the awareness of thalidomide people issues. “My husband as well as I campaigned for this memorial. These people have the right to express their feelings. We hoped at first to put it in London. But we realized finally that Cardiff is an accessible city,” She said.

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