One question for you all, if you see a person approaching with the wheelchair, what will you notice first, wheelchair or person? Would it define who he/she is? Wheelchair is like a visible sign you can’t avoid seeing it.
We know the difference between being anonymous and sometimes feeling like public property because I’ve used a wheelchair down for the last ten years so what does that look like in practice you may say what are my daily interactions like well I would like to give you a glimpse of my world before and after using the wheelchair.
We would like to open the door for you to worlds how would you feel if people push you around without asking?, speak on your behalf or speak to your friend instead of you. This behaviour sometimes feels like the person is less than other people.
What would you think if your old boss didn’t ask you about your future aspirations in the company anymore and he said to you if he employed everyone with disability the business would collapse would that kill your confidence too the thing is in so many ways. ?
PwD are still the same person, they are passionate, ambitious and sociable and what they have to deal with is undoubtedly challenges and setbacks and they have to adjust to the world.
Some of us don’t realize but they are not just talking sticks and wheelchairs here because disabled people make up the largest minority group in the world both visible and non-visible disabilities and in fact a recent. survey stated that 90% of people with disabilities do not have a wheelchair they do not have a visible tail showing their disability.
If you noticed when we talk about diversity, disability is rarely mentioned if at all it’s as if disabled people are such a distinct group of people not part of the mainstream and therefore not fully included in society and you see, people look at them differently.
We all have a perspective in the way that we see the world, so let us give you some examples we want to start off with what we think of as normal so if you think back, think about your fairy tales that you read as children. let’s have a look at how disability is depicted if we take Beauty and the Beast as examples so in Beauty and the Beast there’s an arrogant young prince and he falls in love, falls under a spell as punishment for bad behavior and we are told he’s turned into a hideous beast until he learns how to love and beloved in return. Now what message does that send that if you have some kind of facial disfigurement that’s associated with punishment and bad behavior and being beautiful is associated with happiness and love. Now the Hunchback of not redang it’s about lives a life of solitude because we are told he is too ugly to be accepted in society. He falls in love with the main female character but she falls in love with somebody else which he accepts and he gives them his blessing again what message does that send to children and society that disabled people live in isolation, because they are too unattractive and Love is not for them but it’s for others.
Now you might be thinking yeah but these are just old fairy tales there may believe it doesn’t do any harm to society and children. We believe it starts from somewhere you see this affects everyone too.
We have seen people saying to PwD, you’re quite pretty for someone like you. We have to be grateful for what we have in our lives. don’t we have to appreciate what we have but to say such things it just make them feel that their life have less value and Worth and this is the current day fairy tale which is being perpetuated about people with disabilities.
Now modern-day films they tend to look at disabled people as objects of pity and their disability is all-consuming. It is the main point of the story been told in the first place for example there is a character in who’s paralyzed he decides to end his life because he feels it’s not worth living again you might think. Everybody knows it’s not real but we believe that these messages plant seeds in our subconscious and conscious minds. The big deal is this is that their interactions with strangers, the silly comments to the awkward ones and the well-meaning ones they all come from what we see and what we hear, their interactions with strangers are largely about the disability. do you need help?, are you okay?, you’re so inspirational, you’re really brave being out. Is this really about them how would you feel if that became your identity.
You see these are phrases that millions of disabled people hear on a daily basis because the stories about them are not by them. They are a narrow vision of what life is actually like for someone living with a disability.
Yes, their life is shaped a lot by of the fact that they are disabe and they can’t dispute that but the thing is thats not the main story. it’s just part of the story why can’t we now see films about people and their disability is just part of the story ? because this will normalize disability the way you can build a bridge and to make disabled people feel included you can reach out to similarities or you can tune in to the differences you can say how are you instead of what happened to you?, because it’s a choice you can change your perspective today. The next time your encounter somebody with a disability, you can think about what is possible, you can think about what insights do they have.
You probably don’t see the funny thing is most of the time they don’t feel disabled, most of the time they don’t feel different but when they do it’s when society is organized in a certain way it’s when people react differently towards them more than the impairment itself. but when the barriers are removed they feel included, they feel accepted within society, they don’t need people to constantly commentate on the way they are. Now they don’t need people to fuss around them.
Yes, they have a disability but that does not mean inability and it’s hard sometimes, isn’t it? if you don’t have experience of disability what you say, what you do. but this is what works for differently abled person this is body, this is the new normal for them.
They do this every single day.
If they will need assistance believe it they will ask you, will guide you because here’s the thing is that no matter what’s happened in your life whether it’s visible or non visible abuse cancer a bereavement or even a difficult breakup it’s not what’s happened to you it’s your interpretation of what’s Happened to you that will enable you to build your own bridge to get to the other side of what is possible.