When you first hear the word “disability”, what would be the first thing that comes to your mind? What would your imagination spot on that moment? One has to ask himself and find an answer! Such issue is really frustrating in terms of how people, society and the world is perceiving this matter. Probably, the stereotype perceived about the people with disability is wrongly comprehended many worldwide. Just wondering why some people consider a disabled person as an abnormal or strange human being!
As a matter of fact, some people negatively associate the word “disability”, with the people who cannot walk, talk, see or do everything that people take for granted. Yes, they physically look different, but in a way that their ability to do things is limited unlike healthy people. However, just because a man lacks the use of his eyes does not mean he lacks vision. Actually, the worst thing about disability is that people see it before they see the person. One has to think of why the world is worried about disability more than the people with disability are?!
Nevertheless, people with disabilities are human beings like everyone else; they share similar feelings, attitudes, interests and needs that we all have. All that they have is different preferences when referring to their disability. Some people see their disability as an essential part of who they are and prefer to be identified with their disability first. This is called Identity-First Language, while others prefer the Person-First Language. Relevant examples of Identity-First Language include identifying someone as a deaf person instead of a person who is deaf, or an autistic person instead of a person with autism.
Therefore, using Identity-First Language when communicating with a person with disability is somehow inferior. Hence, when talking to them, one has to acknowledge their differences as you would acknowledge the uniqueness of anyone else and treat them as normal. One has never to talk down to them literally or figuratively; if one is on a wheelchair, use a chair to be on their same eye level, especially if you are having a long conversation.
Further, one has to be careful when addressing them or talking with them for they could be very sensitive. In a conversation, put the person first to say “a person with a disability” rather than “a disabled person” and address them as “people with disabilities” instead of “the disabled”. Also, one should speak directly to a person with a disability, not to their companion or a sign language interpreter. A lack of immediate response does not indicate that the person cannot or will not respond.
On the other hand, adults with disabilities deserve to be treated and spoken to as adults. They need to make their decisions instead of being told what to do or using baby talk with them. Providing them with options or an advice, for instance, shall be done the same way when provided to those without disabilities. If the option they choose presents a difficulty concerning their disability, discuss ways you could modify or adapt their choice.
Accordingly, everyone has to keep in mind the different disabilities and challenges that some people have in their life. There are visible disabilities as well as invisible disabilities, so one has to be careful when treating people with disabilities. Regardless their challenges, they are blessed with capabilities and opportunities that make some are more successful than others. The world is full of celebrities who are with disabilities or others who had overcome disabilities.
People with disability shall never be stereotyped, no matter how they look or act. As Albert Einstein said, “Everybody is genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”. Therefore, like everyone else, they cannot change the wind’s direction, but they adjust their sails to reach their destinations.