If a person who is handicapped wants to be as independent as he/she can, it is important for us all to co-operate in a positive manner. This might mean that friends and family need to refrain from giving unasked for assistance. Giving encouragement is far more helpful.
Someone who stuttered badly wrote; ‘I suffer discrimination all the time by persons who tease and ridicule me.’
A person who cannot hear needs understanding from hearing people as well as respect for their individual qualities which are all unimpaired except in the imagination of the uninformed. A bright young man who cannot hear says that there are people out there who view him as mentally retarded simply because he is hearing impaired. The best way to break down barriers for all the people who are unable to hear is to learn sign language. This will most definitely reduce the discrimination they have to bear on a daily basis. A person who cannot hear does not view himself/herself as being handicapped. The difference between them and hearing people is viewed merely as a language and cultural difference.
Many of us feel ill at ease with someone who is unable to see. Our first instinct is to help them walk across the street, for example, but not everyone actually does this. Why? Often because of uncertainty about the non-seeing person’s reaction to an offer of assistance. Most of them welcome help when offered if done in a natural and polite manner.
I have heard disabled people say repeatedly; ‘The biggest compliment we can receive is to be treated as normal. Please relate to us as you would to anybody else.’
But, it is inadvisable to compare one handicapped person with another. The people mentioned below were extreme examples.
Ludwig van Beethoven composed some of his greatest masterpieces while unable to hear a sound. Imagine how he must have felt.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was President of the United States from 1933 – 1945 although severely handicapped by polio.
Helen Keller, unable to see, hear nor speak from early childhood, became a prolific author and educator.