Have you ever wondered what it would be like to lose a leg, or two legs? I know a woman who lost both her legs. She was lucky to have lived in a country where handicapped people are treated with the greatest respect; where there are few buildings that are not wheelchair friendly.
Do you know what the button on the post at a crosswalk is for? Well, in the UK, it’s a small, unassuming, plastic button that starts spinning and beeping when the lights turn green. This cone alerts a visually impaired or hearing impaired person that he/she can cross the street safely.
As so many of us are not tuned in to the needs of people with various handicaps, we are guilty at some time or another of making their lives more difficult by:
- We build stairs up to our front doors.
- Send letters to visually impaired people in the tiniest print.
- If someone has a speech-impairment, we shouldn’t end the conversation; rather try harder to understand what he/she is saying.
- Have you ever told a handicapped person to call a social worker to help him/her? Although social workers can be very helpful, they are often merely the gatekeepers to personal care services and rather than solve the problem, sometimes social services create a whole new set of problems for disabled people.
- It is so rude and unfeeling to talk to a disabled person via their care giver. Is it so difficult to speak directly to the person in the wheelchair?
- When meeting a disabled person, it is fine to ask what is wrong with them but unnecessary to ask too many questions.
- I have often wondered why entrances for disabled people are so often placed at the back of a building, simply forcing them to struggle ever further. Is this how we show that we value them as part of our community? Equality should be about being valued in the same way as we value one another so, what’s wrong with having their entrance in front too?
- If a disabled swimmer has to wear armbands, refrain from asking; ‘why didn’t you ever learn to swim?’
- People assume that disabled people are asexual; a classic myth. For the record, the majority of disabled people can have sex the same as anyone else. I have been told that disabled people are either straight, bisexual or gay and can choose to get married and have children if they so desire.
- Please think twice before daring to park in a disabled parking bay. The fine for doing so should be at least $1,000 in my opinion.
- For all the teachers out there; Please think twice before asking a student with dyslexia to read out loud in front of the whole class.
- If you have invited your friend who uses a wheelchair to visit and you live anywhere except on the ground floor, do make sure that the elevator is working that day.
- There is no need to be patronizing toward a disabled person. Patronization is the deliberate or accidental undermining of someone’s intelligence.
- I have heard someone say; ‘there is no difference between a learning difficulty and a mental illness.’
- Someone who dribbles due to their condition, cannot help it, so please refrain from averting your eyes or calling them names.
- When trying to help a disabled person, it is advisable to ask how best you can do so, rather than take the initiative, which may be the wrong thing to do.
- If we cannot see a disability, it does not mean that it does not exist.
- Some disabled people are perfectly able to lead pretty independent lives, so please do not take it for granted that all disabled people need looking after.
- Ramps should not be too steep as that defeats the purpose of having a ramp in the first place.
- Parents and teachers: please refrain from complaining that there are too many disabled children in mainstream schools. Rather, be happy that that they are being taken care of. One of your children or grandchildren may turn out to be disabled in some way. Remember, the other children will manage.
- I have heard travelers criticize airlines for aiding disabled people as it causes flight delays.
- When holding a committee meeting, remember to use a building with an elevator.
- When meeting a disabled person at a function for example, It is advisable to talk to and get to know that individual , rather than dwell on his/her disability.
- Buses and trains must be designed for easy access for someone with a disability.
- Do you know that that I heard about a gentleman who actually sent an audio CD to a hearing disabled friend?