Disabilities come in many forms, some may be obvious (e.g. persons with spinal cord injury) or not so obvious (e.g. persons with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder [ADHD]).
The need for disability awareness has become more prominent over the recent decades. Not only does disability awareness help break down harmful societal mindsets, it also helps to create a more positive and inclusive society for all.
Here, we will provide you with 3 ways to improve your disability awareness so that you can be a part of the change toward a ‘zero discrimination’ society.
Number 1: Unlearn myths, stereotypes and misconceptions about disabilities
Myths, stereotypes and misconceptions all play a major role in shaping public opinion and resulting attitudes and behaviours.. As such, becoming educated about the different disabilities that exist and dispelling any misinformation that you may have, is one of the first steps you should take when aiming to adopt a more inclusive mindset toward persons living with disabilities.
Number 2: Be aware of your language
The language and terms we use when referring to persons with disabilities form an equally significant role in how we view and treat them. When speaking, we should always use language that is inclusive, non-offensive and puts the person first. Here are some examples of ways to make your language more inclusive:
- Use the term ‘people with disabilities’ instead of disabled people. This is because we should always remember that people are people first and foremost.
- The term ‘blind’ has many negative and insulting connotations. As a result, using the terms ‘a person with a limited vision’ or ‘ a person who is visually impaired’ may be better perceived.
Read more about the best disability-inclusive terms to use here.
Number 3: Advocate for accessibility
Advocating for safer and more practical environments for persons living with disabilities is an important step in increasing your disability awareness. Being able to identify whether your environment, be it a classroom, restaurant, or workspace, is disability-friendly or not, allows you to make informed decisions as well as help advocate for more inclusive environments.
If you would like to seek support for yourself or any person living with a disability, contact the Disability Affairs Unit of the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services at 800-1673 or 623-2608 or visit the Network and Outreach for Disability Education and Sensitization’s (NODES) website at nodes.co.tt