Archive for the ‘Perception’ Category

Service of What the Public Must Learn About People with Disabilities

Thursday, September 12th, 2019

Photo: medicalxpress.com

I suddenly went deaf in both ears and didn’t know why. It turns out it was a garden variety ear infection but I didn’t know that and spent three weeks in a silent world.

At the time I visited a boutique in Lenox, Mass. looking at blouses and a saleswoman came over. I assumed she’d said—“May I help you?” or something close. When I told her I was totally deaf and added “thank you, I’ll let you know if I need anything,” she looked at me with panic. I’ll never forget her expression of alarm.

You couldn’t tell by looking at me that anything was off kilter, yet this brief experience made me realize how people with permanent conditions must feel daily. So when Helen Rabinovitz suggested a post on what the public assumes about people with disabilities I accepted with enthusiasm.

This is what she wrote:

Lisa Rabinovitz with Ethan, the service dog she trained herself.

My 33 year old daughter has Cerebral Palsy. Lisa is beautiful, articulate and has a genius IQ. Yet people see her in a power wheelchair and assume she can’t communicate. It’s insulting that able bodied people think that people with disabilities are less than smart.

Rewind to middle school. My husband and I get called to the headmaster’s office three times. He said “Lisa isn’t trying,” or “She’s not participating,” for example. Finally on visit number three I said to him… “The problem is that her teachers see her wheelchair first and Lisa second. She’s smarter than they are so she’s bored!” No more visits to the office! When the school got computers, which were upstairs in a building with no elevator, administrators sat Lisa with an aide downstairs. She taught the aide how to use it.

High school…Lisa, her service dog and sister Rachael are in the hall and a teacher came over to chat. She spoke directly to Rachael and then said to be sure and tell Lisa what she’d said. Rae told her she could speak directly to Lisa. Embarrassed teacher!!

Just because a person uses a wheelchair or walker or crutches doesn’t mean they’re stupid. It’s important to treat everyone we meet, no matter how they get around, with the respect and consideration everyone expects.

Do you assume that if a person suffers from one affliction it impacts everything else about them? Are you uncomfortable around people with disabilities? Why do you think that is? What might be done to disabuse the public of their false notions about disabled friends, students, colleagues and strangers?

 

Photo: reddit.com

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