Redefining Disabilities In Modern Society
Anybody who has once watched the Paralympic games knows for sure that sitting in a wheelchair doesn’t mean your body is unable of doing anything. Sure, it probably means you won’t be a successful runner. But if Paralympic games have proven one thing, it’s that disabled people can be just as strong, performant and successful as anybody else. In fact, it’s difficult not to feel impressed and admirative of people such as the Chinese wheelchair fencer, Yu Chui Yee, or Terezinha Guilhermina, the amazingly fast blind runner who can run 100m in 12 seconds. She’s so fast in fact that Usain Bolt offered to run with her as her guide. In other words, when other-able-bodied athletes are smashing records, it’s time for society to take a stance and redefine what it means to have a disability.
Disabled is different from unable
There is no logical reason why too many events have so far excluded disabled people from participating. But as social perceptions are still slow to evolve, people with a disability miss out on too many opportunities because nobody actually wants to give them a chance. Hence, Miss Wheelchair World Beauty pageant breaks down the barriers for disabled people, proving that you don’t need to stand on your two legs to be beautiful. Slowly, but surely, more and more individuals around the world are awakening to the possibilities they have, as disabled persons, physically and mentally. As a child once mentioned, disabled people are not powerless. They can do pretty much anything they are willing to try. They are, hence, able. From hiking in a specialist wheelchair to working in an office with their guide dogs, dedicated individuals are transforming the image of disability. They’re not unable. They’re differently able.
Hiding your disability
Contrary to the common belief, not all disabilities need to be visible. From working in a wheelchair in a remote work position, or using small ITC hearing aids that sit inside your ear canal, you don’t need to make your situation known. Admittedly, it’s fair to say that the HR department needs to be informed about it, but there’s no reason why you should display your disability to your colleagues and customers if you don’t have to. For the lucky ones who can act as fully able-bodied, they enjoy the benefit of not going through the scrutiny of social perceptions. While there is no doubt that disabled employees are part of the team as much as anybody else, keeping your disability a secret can lift a weight off your chest – especially if you’re worried about how others might treat you if they knew.
Finding a partner who can help you through
The days when disability excluded you from leading a fulfilling social existence are long gone. Nowadays, you can embrace your disability with the support of a little helper. Disability doesn’t only affect how you interact with the world. It also changes how you perceive yourself. It can be challenging, if not embarrassing, to ask for help in social situations. That’s precisely where a loyal and trained helper can make a great deal of difference. A guide dog, for instance, can not only help you to cross the road if you’re visually impaired, but you can also train a dog to bring your medicine, call an ambulance or simply give you your independence at home. Similarly, if a dog isn’t right for you, there are also support animals, such as mini horses, which can significantly improve your everyday life. Additionally, as miniature horses can live up to 35 years, they are a fantastic alternative to guide dogs.
It’s not about help; it’s about making the world more accessible
It’s fair to say that most handicapped individuals require help to navigate places that are not made accessible to their needs. For instance, too many offices still fail to provide mobility-friendly solutions for wheelchair owners. Contrary to the common belief, a handicapped-accessible work area doesn’t require a lot of efforts. You need a desk that has an adjustable height; especially for wheelchair-bound workers. There is specialized equipment to facilitate computer work for people with mobility disabilities or vision impairment.
Assistive technology is everywhere already
It’s surprising to think that everybody knows assistive technology. Voice-controlled assistants, such as Siri or Alexa, are the favorite tools of modern households. However, most people forget that they were first designed with assistive accessibility to help bridge the gap. Indeed, Siri is more than a fun gadget on your smartphone. It’s a tool that supports disabled in their everyday life.
From invisible technology to tackle your disability to mainstream assistive technology that has been adopted by the greater public, disabilities are not an obstacle to social integration anymore. In fact, with time, we can expect to build a society where disability doesn’t make a difference anymore.