3 December 2017 is the UN International Day of People with Disability, marking the 25th anniversary of this day.
The day is about raising awareness of the fact that so many people live with some kind of disability. On the whole they are marginalised and many live in more poverty than they should. In this day and age, I find it so wrong that this is still happening in our developed country. The International Day of People with Disability is our chance to encourage people to look at those with a disability with different eyes; and for people who live with disabilities to help those who don’t to better understand what they are living with.
The word Disability is defined in the dictionary as ‘a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities.’ It does not say that someone is unable to do something – it means that they may have to do certain things differently. In some cases, it means that they can actually do certain tasks better than other people. For example, GCHQ employs many people with autism as they are so good at good at spotting patterns.
For me, the International Day of People with Disability Day is about empowerment. It is about bringing together the two worlds of people who live with a disability and people who do not. I would like to see the two worlds merging and becoming seamless. In order to do this, we need to make a bridge of effective two-way communication. This will help people who do not live with disabilities to better understand those who do. It will also help people who do live with disabilities, as many find it difficult to understand why others do not understand their disability, especially if they were born with it.
How can we all build this bridge?
We need to remove the stigma that is too often associated with disabilities. This stigma is caused by a lack of education, which leads to fear. In many cases, the fear builds the stigma further, while in the worse cases, this fear can lead to anger and violence towards someone living with a disability.
Two way communication is needed to educate people on both sides of the gap.
Here’s what you can do if you don’t have a disability:
- Talk directly to a person with a disability, who you might work with or meet. Don’t be nervous about it, but ask sensitive questions. Some disabled people don’t want to impose information on you about their disability, so give them the opportunity to talk openly about it
- Be aware that there are many people living with disabilities that you may not know about. Don’t make assumptions about whether someone is disabled or not, or what they can or cannot do as a result of their disability
- Be prepared to champion a cause for a disabled person. Most of us know at least one person with a disability, so why not support them? This support could be as small as asking someone how they’re really feeling and giving them someone to talk to.
Here’s what you can do if you do have a disability:
- Learn how to become confident about speaking about your disability. Be able to ask for what you need in an appropriate way. “Did you know that because I have this disability, I need to do this task in this way?”
- Be prepared to accept support and be gracious about how you turn down help. You may not need help exactly at the time that someone offers it, but you or someone else might need their help later on
- Be prepared to champion other people with disabilities, even if they have different disabilities to yours. Look around you and see who else you could help.
If you would like to build up your confidence in talking about your own disability, or you need help talking to people with disabilities with whom you work, do get in touch and we can talk about how I can help you to do this. Call me on 07752 518 925 or click here to email me.
Show your support for people with disabilities on 3 December and remember that it’s not just this one day. People with disabilities live with them all year. You can find out more about getting involved with this year’s International Day of People with Disability here.