Interview with Sal Mannan (Guest interview #28)

Hey everyone! Today, we have a guest post from Sal. She runs the blog Under my Umbrella. Be sure to check out her on social media and give her a follow. Thank you Sal for being a guest. 🙂

  1.  What is your name/blog, channel name?

My blog is titled ‘Under My Umbrella’ and can be found at

2. What is the name/cause of your visual impairment/disabilities that you have?

Ah, I have already answered that one, I have Congenital Rubella Syndrome caused by contracting Rubella in the womb.  The main damage Rubella caused in me that is noticeable is to my eyes and heart.  Thanks to my mate rubi (Rubella), I was born with Congenital Cataracts which were removed after birth. Which means I am Aphakic and have no eye lens in either eyes as the cataracts were bilateral.  I also have bilateral Nystagmus, Strabismus, and a whole range of other defects and problems in the eyes. I was also born with a hole in the heart, known as Atrial Septal Defect, (ASD) which has been corrected twice.  There are other problems, but I will not list them all here.  I did grow up with a bit of developmental delays, but I think I have come a long way and slowly getting there, and I have caught up quite a lot I think anyway.

3. How does your visual impairment/other disabilities affect you on a daily basis?

Oh, the usual.  Struggling to read small print, seeing things from far, little focus, balance issues and the list goes on.  But I just carry on.  They do not affect me as bad as most other people.  My CRS is quite mild, and so are my visual impairment and other disabilities.  Of course, just because it is mild, it does not mean I do not struggle, because I do.  Just not as much as others, I guess.  Say for instance as one example, I do not need a guide dog or cane.  But I still have my barriers.  I try not to think about those.  I do what I can to the best of my abilities. 

4. What do other people think of your visual impairment/disabilities?

That I am a pain in the butt. Not really only joking.  I do not really know what people think, although most seem to think I don’t sound disabled, and I seem to pass off as normal.  I apparently speak so well you would not know I had a disability.  Apparently, I do not look disabled either, but they can tell something is not right, just that they cannot put their finger on it and has something to do with my eyes. I think they lie; I do not even look normal to myself when I see videos and photos of me, you can see something is wrong.  Wonky head tilt due to null points is just one of them. Lol! People are just too nice, or afraid they will upset me by being honest, I think.

5. If you had to give a piece of advice to others about having a visual impairment or disability, what would that you may have, what would it be?

Oh, this one’s a tricky one, I am not good at giving advice.  I guess I would like to tell the world, that my body might be riddled with damage and defects, but if you look under those flaws and disabilities, you will find a human being with feelings.  A person with a huge personality, with likes, dislikes, thoughts, ideas, dreams, humour and so much more.  Do not treat me like an alien and alienate me, talk to me and you will see a whole person inside this broken body of mine.  I do not need fixing, I’ve had all the fixing that can be done, but while rubella has touched my body, there are things it couldn’t touch.  it did not take away my emotions, I still feel emotions like everyone else, I get hurt, angry, sad, happy, excited, all of those things like the rest of the world. It did not get my intelligence completely; my brain still functions well enough. I am not the smartest person in the world, but I am not stupid either. So, treat me with respect and know that I am still human.  Disability for me does not cause me misery, it is people’s attitudes towards me and my disabilities that cause any hurt in my life.  Remember disability is not a choice, be kind because disability can happen to anyone, and it does not discriminate your age, race, gender, or anything.  We just want to be treated as human beings because that’s what we are.  Just like you!!  Ok I know I talk a load of rubbish and far too much, don’t worry we’re coming to the end now.  Lol!

6. Name your best quality?

Oh, I do not know, I don’t think I have many good qualities, I’m not really good at anything much, I don’t have talents, or anything like that.  There is nothing special about me, but if I had to name one thing, I guess it would have to be my sense of humour.  I love banter and being silly, and just joking around.  I really think laughter is the best medicine and love making others laugh and seeing them happy.  Even if most people do not get my jokes and think I’m strange.  I am one of the most misunderstood people ever. But for those who do get my humour, well at least it gets them smiling. I try to be kind and helpful too, as best as I can.  I’m not perfect, but I think those would probably be my best qualities.  I do not know really.  I think I am my own worst critic, so I really could not say what my best qualities are.  *shrugs*

7. If you could interview anyone living or dead, who would it be and why?

Oh boy I do not know.  I guess at this moment in time it would have to be Eddie Redmayne.  (That might change in a few years’ time.  Who knows?). Lol! But right now, yeah, I’m really into Eddie Redmayne.  I love his portrayal of Newt Scamander, who just happens to be my favourite character throughout the whole wizarding world franchise.  Yes, I am a Potterhead, and right now I am obsessed and have a strong fixation on the Fantastic Beasts film and Newt.  I also like Eddie as a person, he seems so interesting and fascinating to me.  When I watch his interviews on YouTube, I find what he has to say interesting. He also seems to have a good sense of humour too, and I think he’d be fun to interview.  I love how he gives us nuggets of his personal life in his interviews and he seems like a really fun person to chat to and interview.  He is quite witty.  I love witty people.  Lol! He is also described by many as being humble and genuinely one of the nicest people to ever meet. Which is a quality I like in a person. So yeah, I would love to meet him and interview him.  I might be on the floor from fear, nerves, and anxiety before I even get near him, but it will be worth my while. Lol!

8. When and Why did you start your blog or YouTube channel?

I think I kind of answered that in another question.  I started this blog fairly recently, it is still quite new, I think.  I cannot remember exactly when, but I think it was this summer.  I started it because I wanted to express my thoughts and feelings on certain topics, I would come across here and there, or my own experiences, and wanted a place where I could do that in more detail.  I find expressing myself helps me get stuff off my chest etc. and I find writing therapeutic. I can forget my troubles sometimes when writing, so why not.  I just wanted to give it a try, plus I want to help make a change in the world and help bring about more acceptance and awareness to disability and make the world a better place for people living with a disability.  I do not think my blogs will make much of a positive change in this world, but I can try right.  Also, maybe to get people to look at the world of disability in a different way to the norm.  I do not know, I guess I thought it would be interesting to see how blogging goes really. 

9. Why did you choose the title of your blog or channel?

Ok this one is rather complicated and not a straightforward answer.  Do I ever give straight forward answers? Anyway, so why did I call my blog under my umbrella? Well I’m one of these people who love a play on words and love using words with meanings and metaphors  I’m not really sure if I can explain the title in a way that would get you all to understand.  Basically, I was born with a condition called congenital rubella syndrome.  CRS is an umbrella of multiple disabilities and defects caused by the rubivirus a viral infection known to many as German measles or rubella, which causes damage to an unborn child in the womb.  When doctors give vaccination and explain that rubella is dangerous to pregnant women, it is not the mother they are talking about, it is the unborn child.  The infection if contracted in first or second trimester during pregnancy causes serious damage and prevents major organs from developing properly.  This can have serious damage to major organs including the brain and heart, and many other things, but that is in severe cases and the infection affects different people differently.  Each individual experiences the condition in a different way. 

The fact that Congenital rubella syndrome is an umbrella of different disabilities and defects is where the umbrella came from.  It was a way to describe my condition in one word.   The under my bit is a sort of metaphor or message to say look under my disabilities and you will find a person with many thoughts, ideas and dreams.  A human with feelings.  It is a way of saying come and look into my world, as I share my thoughts.  I cannot explain it properly, I tried explaining in the about section of the website.  I do not know if that explanation is any better.  But it makes sense in my own head.  Well I wanted something centered around the world umbrella, I nearly went with my purple umbrella, either that or in my own bubble, but cannot remember why I did not.  I guess there were already blogs with those names, and I wanted something unique and interesting.

10. Who has inspired you for your blog or YouTube channel?

This one is a little tricky to answer.  I do not think there was anyone in particular who inspired me to write my blog.  At first the idea started when I found myself expressing my thoughts and feelings on certain topics around disabilities, after seeing articles, discussions, and certain content on the internet, during discussions on Facebook in certain groups.  Some of the things I saw often frustrated me, or had me thinking, or just had my interest.  And I just thought maybe I should re start blogging again, except a bit more seriously this time.  The idea sat and simmered in my mind, I got distracted, started other projects, and was also writing other things too, so it never happened for a while.  Then I started seeing other people blogging about their experiences, or thoughts on similar things I had expressed thoughts on too and wanted to give it a try. 

A few people also encouraged me to start up a blog, as they felt I write from the heart and people would benefit from my honesty and thoughts.  And so, Under My Umbrella was born. Lol!

11. Where can other people find you on social media?

You can go a hunting and find me at:


Under My Umbrella!! Why try to fit in, when you were born to stand out? Dr. Seuss!



Well I hope you enjoyed reading that.  Thanks for reading. 

Published by Amanda Gene Harris, author and owner of Harris' InkWell

Hi, welcome to my website. My name is Amanda Gene Harris, and I am the owner of Harris' Inkwell. I am a disability and mental health freelancer. I would love to work with your company and I provide writing on a variety of topics on disability and mental health. Feel free to contact me via email at:

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