Person with Disability, Let us treat them as Individuals

maeann
Posted November 14, 2021 from Philippines
Person with Disability, Let us treat them as Individuals

The awareness and interest dawn on me on a person with disability, when we had our first webinar which was facilitated by Dhidhak Bandalan, on the topic entitled Inclusion to leave no one behind: Disability, Gender and Age. She shared and I quote, “that in order to leave no one behind, humanitarian and development actions need to take widespread discrimination on the grounds of disability, gender and age into account, and proactively engage in removing barriers to equal opportunities”

 

It taught me that when we say “Inclusive” we are not creating a division or to treat them special because they are different.  Inclusive is treating them with who they are, and ensuring that all public spaces, in school or at home are accessible for person with disability, with how we want it to be - accessible, safe and convenient.

 

“If you really want change, you really want it to be inclusive, where everyone’s included, otherwise you’re just going to have more of the same in the future.” – will.i.am

 

Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.

 

I think, we need a common language to guide us create awareness and understanding. After the webinar we had last 2020 with Dhidhak. I dig deeper and hope what else I can contribute to bring awareness to my community about person with disability.

 

 

I invited two women whom they themselves are a person with disability: Marta A. Villafañe (watch her presentation on Interaction with Person with Disabilities) and Carmen Reyes Zubiaga (watch her presentation on The right to Social and Economic Activities of Persons with Disabilities)

 

These are women who are living example that those who has disability can be a person of influence and inspiration.

 

During our webinar, never it came to my mind about their situation especially during this pandemic.  We talked about “facemask” how a person who are deaf or have hearing loss will have difficulty of read lips. If the company has a mindset of “inclusive” they should have consider producing facemask for person with disability.

 

Before, I only care about my rights. But after learning from a person with disability, I think the most valuable contribution that I can make is a realization of a “shame ignorance” that people with disabilities exist and living. How may they be physically but they are still part of the community.

 

I did not grow up with disability, but I felt that within me I am disabled for not knowing how to appropriately interact with them, looking at them pity or feel sorry for them.  I feel shame of my ignorance.

 

I learned that they are courageous, hopeful and has dreams. They don’t need my pity; they need my respect and treat them the right way.

 

I also need to change my attitude as how I viewed them. They are no longer an object of charity but a subject with rights. A right to participate, accessibility, engage in interactions and enjoy the same service as a person without a disability.

 

“Abled does not mean enabled. Disabled does not mean less abled.” ― Khang Kijarro Nguyen

 

Here are some ideas, and my learning during my conversation with person with disability on how we can better support them:

 

1. Be a good advocate for person with disability – support a person or a group to speaks on behalf of people who are incapable of speaking up for themselves.  This will develop their confidence and enable them to get their voices heard.

 

Being an advocate is more influential for equality and participation especially for people with learning disabilities.

 

If you are a family living with a person with disability, as an advocate consider to focus on the person’s needs, best interest, their own safety and good.

 

2. Be a connector not a divider – you should be a “safe person” around a person with disability.  They are unique and we should acknowledge their differences. Treat them as normal, they are human too.  Sometimes our ignorance can cause us a divider.  When we are not sure how to interact or offer an assistance, ask him/her first. I learned, not because someone has disability that does mean they need help. Of course, if there is danger, help as how you help someone in need. Make sure to speak directly to the person with disability, not to their companion, talk to them like anyone else.

 

“The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” – Saul Bellow

 

To properly address them:

“Person with a disability”

“Person with Autism”

“Person who uses Wheelchair”

“Person who has down syndrome”

“Person who has cerebral palsy”

“Person with a learning disability”

“Person who is Deaf”

“Person who is hard of hearing”

 

 

With any disability, avoid disempowering words like:

“victim” or “sufferer”

“handicapped”

“crippled”

“retarded”

“disabled”

 

3. Be respectful on their mobility equipment (wheelchair, scooter or cane) – person with disability consider their equipment part of their personal space. Show respect by not touching or moving it without their permission.

 

4. Be prepared for any disaster – if you are a family or caregiver who are living with person with disability you should know what to do when there is a sudden disaster especially if you are living in a prone disaster area.

 

Prepare a quick run bag that has basic supplies (bottled water, food, flashlight etc), medical supplies, emergency documents (cash, prescription etc), other items like medical alert tags or bracelet, extra batteries for hearing aid, extra eye glasses etc.)

 

Plan ahead where you will go by choosing several destinations in different direction for safety.  Identify a friend, relative who are not in your area to be your support and can be contacted during emergency (watch Mark Padil on Disaster Preparedness for Families living with Autism and to the Differently-Abled Community)

 

“Remember: When disaster strikes, the time to prepare has passed” – Steven Cyros

 

5. Be visible – the accessibility in public places, offices, hotels or at home is our way of showing them that they are welcome.  Use verbal description, along with symbols as signage for the service they can use and place it where is most visible.

 

Disability access symbols are: Access to low vision, The symbol of Accessibility, Sign Language Interpretation, Audio description for TV, Video and Film, Telephone Typewriter, Volume Control Telephone, Live Audio Description, Accessible Print and The Info.

 

Like you and me, a person with disability has family, dreams, problems, joy and hobbies. Let us treat them as individuals.

 

This story was submitted in response to Disability Justice.

Comments 20

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rebecca.tang
Nov 14
Nov 14

Thank you for sharing. Agree that inclusion and diversity is very important. Disables have their rights and also contribute to the world. There are disables who are great people, e.g. Stephen Hawking, etc. Though we can see there are facilities / cares on disables, it is still not enough, there are still improvement requires.
Please continue to bring the awareness!
May Almighty God bless you and all disables!

maeann
Nov 14
Nov 14

Dear Rebecca,

How is your country providing service to person with disability? In my country we still have more to improve. I hope that our government implement laws for the benefits of people with disabilities.

Thank you and be safe.

Temple Bright
Nov 19
Nov 19

Please can we do a virtual event concerning providing services to persons with disability?

maeann
Nov 19
Nov 19

Hi Temple, the webinar teaches us how to interact with person with disability. Here in the Philippines, there is a facebook group of people with disabilities, they are facilitating several virtual events and activities involving person with disability.

Temple Bright
Nov 19
Nov 19

Good, so we can partner with them to also share our different ideas on disability.

ARREY- ECHI
Nov 14
Nov 14

Dear Maeann,
How are you doing?

Thank you so much for sharing this. The points to note, the lessons to take home are so very much appreciated. As someone living with an invisible disability, It warms the heart to see more non- disabled persons joining the advocacy movement for the rights and privileges of persons with disability and for the need to treat us with respect and dignity.
Together, we keep raising our collective voices.

Much love always

maeann
Nov 15
Nov 15

Hi Arrey,

I am doing well, thank you.

I am ashamed of my ignorance as non-disabled person who does not know how to simply interact a person with disability. But I thank of the webinar we conducted because of this, my eyes opened, learned and started advocating for person with disability.

Thank you Arrey.

chimdirimebere
Nov 15
Nov 15

Dear Maeann,
Thanks for bringing out the disabilities in all of us. Yes. When we are not aware of the needs of the persons living with disabilities, it means we are also disabled in our ignorance. So, we are all disabled one way or another. Most times, people are described by their disabilities and I have fought against that each time I see such. For instance, you hear people call out to someone who is deaf as "you deaf" when they want to call his/her attention. I will correct them to call him or her by the name given to the person by the parents while call him/her, "you deaf or ogbi" (Igbo name for a deaf person). And they will reply, "he can't hear his/her name" and I will answer can he/she hear when you call him "you deaf /ogbi".

We need to be educated. Thanks for sharing.

Harriet Okoro

maeann
Nov 15
Nov 15

Hi Harriet, I understand your point. We really need to be educated on how to interact with person with disability. Thank you for being an advocate.

Temple Bright
Nov 19
Nov 19

You are right.

We can plan a virtual event on your thoughts then invite different speakers from different country to speak on disability.

maeann
Nov 21
Nov 21

good idea Temple.

Grace Iliya
Nov 15
Nov 15

Thanks dear Maryann, your write up is informative and as well educative.

Much Love

maeann
Nov 16
Nov 16

Helo Ceegrah, how are you? thank you for the time reading... hope this give info for us person without disability.

Susu Mohamed
Nov 17
Nov 17

Dear maeann,

Wow I loved your story and the way you treated with our brothers.yes let us treat them as individual.
Regards,
Suu

maeann
Nov 19
Nov 19

Helo Mohamed :) thank you. Just like how we want to be treated, same with them.

Oluwatobi Musowo
Nov 18
Nov 18

Wow! This is an eye opener, thanks for sharing Maeann

maeann
Nov 19
Nov 19

Hi Oluwatobi, thank you. This also helped me to be aware on how to interact with person with disability.

Thanks for the write up maeann. You have shared a wonderful and teaching one. I have learnt a lot from that.
Hugs

maeann
Nov 19
Nov 19

Helo Honorine,

How are you? I hope you are doing well. Thank you for the time reading. I am as well learned a lot.

Dec 02
Dec 02
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