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Sunday, 27 February 2011

Are Disabled People invisible in a mainstream world?


I was in my local pub when I started to think about my last blog post as a result of how some of the non-locals made me feel. On the most part I have become a well known face and am treated with respect that I feel I deserve. I am not treated any differently to anyone else in the pub, by all those that know me there. It is the people who don't know me who seem to have no respect for me or my feelings and have made me feel unwelcome or different at times and as my blog post title suggests I am made to feel invisible by some able bodied people. A regular occurrence that irritates me, is when people knock into me without a second thought. I hate it because it feels like the only reason they knock into me is because I am invisible to them. People go past me and will knock into me even though the 10 people before have managed fine to get past me without it being a problem.  Some people are very apologetic, others barge past without a second glance as though they just knocked into an inanimate object.

For disabled people the biggest problem they face on a daily basis is the way that they are treated differently, often in an unfair way. Through the prejudice of society and the perceived view that 'normal' people have about disabled people, equality is an idea very much in the distance for those who live with a disability. There has been many a time over my lifetime that I have felt invisible to people around me when experiencing life in a mainstream world as a direct result of being a wheelchair user. It feels as though it is my fault that I am in the way of them getting somewhere. When I am stationary and people walk into me I still receive a look that suggests that I went into them.

I learnt very young that disabled people are treated different and rarely was it to the benefit of the disabled person themselves, an example of  this was when I used to go into fast food restaurants and order food for myself and then they would tell my mum or whoever I was with how much the meal cost and expect them to pay looking upon me as incapable of such a straightforward task. The saddest aspect of this, being that it was often those who were younger who would treat me the worse (one would hope that the younger generation would now have more understanding as a result of better education of such issues). When I was younger I wouldn't always notice until it was pointed out to me. I suppose I assumed that this was normal behaviour so accepted it for that. As I have got older I now realise this is a popular form of inequality, disabled people are being discriminated against like this on a daily basis. I have learnt to express my dislike for the discriminatory behaviour being practised because as I have learnt the people portraying this behaviour do so because they know no better, assuming they are doing nothing wrong because they have not been educated to think anything different.

As mentioned in previous posts I have learnt to behave appropriately and be diplomatic in these situations because unfortunately lowering myself to their level doesn't teach them anything and in the long run doesn't make me feel any better. There are many circumstance where I have found I have experienced inequality whether it be through education, employment or social environments. I have learnt to educate people as best as I can and show them a positive side to disability and my abilities, whether I have ever changed people's perceived views, that remains to be seen. I can positively say that there are some people who I haven't been able to show them my abilities and so unfortunately have had to approach these situations with the attitude that you win some you lose some. Not every disabled person has the confidence or the strength to approach inequality in this way and there are times I become fed up with the fight for equality. Equality for all will not happen until disabled people are not seen any differently to fellow humans who are seen as not having a disability.


The following link helps to show that my opinion and experiences are unfortunately based on fact  There are an estimated 400 million disabled people in the developing world and there is still a great inequality experienced within the disabled community-

http://www.400millionr.org/400millionRIntro.pdf

It's a sad fact that what this government is doing will only increase this inequality for disabled meaning many will face increased discrimination and a decreased quality of life. 

12 comments:

  1. As someone with a disabled family member, I recognise every word you say - the assumptions made, the exclusion and now the threats to any rights hard fought for.
    Perversely, the attacks by this government are probably going to ensure that there is an active movement - lets hope so

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  2. I recognise some of your experiences. The worst is the hostility - I use a rollator (hasn't been too long so far, either), and the most exasperating scenario is where people walk blindly into it and (threateningly) have a go at me for not looking where I'm going.

    Barging those walking with a stick is pretty common too. Also, people presuming you're drunk because you walk unsteadily...

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  3. Thank you both for your comments, it is nice to know that people are liking my blog. I have had the same experience Sam, people look disgusted that I have got in their way.

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  4. I have similar experiences too, my patience is wearing thin though as is my diplomacy. I only have time for children who ask about it, they're forgiven for being curious & ask the right questions (like: why do you have a walking stick, why don't your legs work properly?) but adults have a motive behind their questions, so it's so much harder to not tell people to F-off (like & these are genuine: "What therapy do you use.....I recommend x,y,z" "How are you? ....repent & you'll heal", "What happened?....Thank god it's not catching")

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  5. It is a shame, I too am treated that way, unable to find work and ssi is not enough to survive off of. I'm currently trying to be a writer, screenplays and such. I'm meeted with great resistence, hearing such things like, people that are like me, aren't meant to live such a life...

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    Replies
    1. I get that, too. Don't give up. I pray you find work. We're human. We have a life to live, too.

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    2. How many disabled people have been underpaid in the workforce while their able-bodied work mates get paid full salary plus all the benefits: Disabled people who work in regular employment want to feel useful, and feel as if they are making a difference in the mainstream world:

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  6. I'm in a wheelchair. I completely understand. I wonder where I fit in.

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  7. I know where I fit in. I keep reminding the ignorant people I encounter - they could be in the same position I am in- in the blink of an eye. Hit by a car, a fall down the stair - a virus that causing you not to walk again. The older you get the more you know ignorant people are not going to change - they just have children and raise more ignorant people. So basically who has the worst off disability.

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  8. “For disabled people the biggest problem they face on a daily basis is the way that they are treated differently, often in an unfair way.”—This is quite true. And it's very sad that the others get that kind of treatment. Luckily, there are some that are treated equally by those who are in good shape.

    #Erminia@ParmeleLawFirm.com

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