Sudhanya is an Intern from Christ University Bangalore, interning at EnAble India in April/May 2014. From a media studies, communication background. She is working with EnAble India providing social media assistance in-order to reach a wider audience.
Misconceptions are barriers that interfere with the ability of people with disabilities to have equality in employment. Lack of awareness promotes negative attitudes concerning employment of people with disabilities. Some of these common stereotypes and misconceptions which are floating in our society must change:
Misconception: People with disability need our sympathy and pity
Truth: Frequently we find society perceiving disability as a tragedy such that persons with disability fall into the pit of sympathy. It is important to understand that sympathy & pity is something which will break an individual’s confidence to be independent & self-reliant. Motivating people with disability will encourage them to face any challenges in life and to follow their dreams.
Misconception: Disability is a sickness
Truth: The word ‘disability’ itself is often attached to negative stigma of an incapability to do something. The question is can disability be labeled as a sickness? Can disability be labeled as incapability or lack of ability? If that is true, then how did people like Beethoven create the most beautiful symphonies, even though he couldn’t hear any of his own music? How then did Helen Keller describe the beauty of the world and the lovely music of nature, without seeing or hearing? If Beethoven and Helen Keller can do beyond the impossible, then disability as such cannot be labeled as a kind of sickness but a challenge to achieve.
Misconception: People with disability are special
Truth: Frequently we see that people with disability are called special or being different. It is important to understand how we would term the word ‘disability’. Being disabled does not stop anyone from doing certain things, though it’s true that things are done differently. Does doing things differently mean being special or being unique?
Misconception: People with disability need our protection
Truth: There is nothing wrong in being protective and concerned for anyone. It only becomes a problem when we get over-protective. This would obstruct anyone’s opportunity to do things on their own & to be self-reliant.
Misconception: People with disability are super-heroes
Truth: Often, disability is seen as a tragedy of life and surviving is a great inspiration. It is important to understand that everyone is the superhero of his/her own life. By facing all the obstacles in life, we make our own life an inspirational story.
Misconception: People with disability always need to be dependent on others
Truth: Everyone is dependent on each other, in some way or the other. It’s human nature that no one can be alone. Though it may be true that there are some people with disability who are dependent on others, it is not necessary to stereotype every person with disability as always being dependent on others. As many people with disability are also able to live independently.
Misconception: It’s easy to accidentally offend a person with disability when speaking to him
Truth: It’s important that we be polite while talking to anyone and, to ensure that we are not rude to anyone.
Misconception: People in wheelchairs have restricted mobility
Truth: Today’s highly mobile world, where we use different kinds of transportation like cars, bikes, buses, trains, etc. to reach anywhere, has almost made us forget that we can walk to places. Can the mere existence of legs be termed as being mobile? Hence, being on a wheelchair can never be termed completely as restricted mobility. Mobility is only restricted by the barriers we place in front of people
Misconception: People with disability only socialize with other people with disability
Truth: It’s true that everyone likes to be with people who share similar characteristics. But it doesn’t mean that people with disabilities restrict their company only with other people with disability. Most people with disability have family and friends who are not disabled.
Misconception: People with disability have no sense of humor
Truth: Sense of humor merely means the ability to appreciate humor. Everyone likes to be comical and people with disability are no different. Hence, sense of humor is not something restricted to a few people.
These are just a few of the misconceptions we have about people with disability. It’s important that we give a thought about how disability is being portrayed in the society, before having assumptions about it.
(The views and opinions expressed above do not necessarily reflect that of EnAble India.)