How to Make Your Community More Inclusive for People with Disabilities
By Space Coast Daily // May 3, 2021
Around 15% of the world’s population has to live and get by with some form of disability. In addition, these are also the people who are more likely to experience increased harshness in life because those around them don’t understand or don’t want to be accepting.
But the world is slowly changing. We now know more about disabilities and understand our role in helping the ones who haven’t been blessed with a healthy body or mind. Across the globe, there are organizations that work hard at pushing awareness on living with a disability and being inclusive as a society.
Of course, there is still more work to do, and the recent COVID-19 pandemic proved there is still a lot of ground to cover. However, it also showed us that communities can get together in times of need, in an effort to protect their most vulnerable members. Even more, individuals can influence the behavior of a community and make sure everyone’s voice is heard and considered.
So, if you are looking for methods to increase disability awareness in your community, here are a few things you can do without too much effort:
Don’t Define People Based on Disability
The language we use in everyday communication shapes the way we think and see the world around us. Therefore, when you address or talk about people with disabilities, make sure you respect the person-first language concept. This concept says that all people need to be identified as a person first and for this to happen, we need to use a person’s name without including the disability in the label.
Otherwise, we risk reducing the person to their perceived limitations, which is harmful and disrespectful. Moreover, when you don’t check your language, it allows others to join in before they’re even aware of the harm they’re producing.
Look for Opportunities to Offer your Help
We are all busy adults, going through life at incredible speed, which is why it’s easy to miss plenty of opportunities where your help may be needed. But, if you keep an eye out for situations where a disabled person is in need of help, you’ll definitely find them!
From helping someone using a cane to walk with their packages to asking someone in a wheelchair if they need a push, these little random acts of kindness are important. Moreover, they can be inspiring for the ones around you – in the end, you never know who may feel motivated to pay more attention to their surroundings just because they saw your behavior.
Treat Them Normally
Out of consideration or lack of knowledge on the topic, people tend to avoid the ones with a visible disability. Some people don’t want to disturb while others feel uncomfortable talking with someone who doesn’t look or behave the way they think it’s normal. As a result, many disabled people end up isolated from society and don’t feel like they belong in their own communities.
Therefore, the best thing you can do is to treat everyone the same. Be friendly and respectful without being too pushy – just like you would be with a regular person. In addition, talk about this kind of situation with your friends, family members, and acquaintances. The more we talk about this scenario and let people know that disabled people are just like us, the more likely it is that the acceptance will increase.
Lastly, it helps if the local authorities get involved in supporting various awareness initiatives since people trust a figure of authority (even though it’s not always obvious). As a plus, when the local authorities get involved, it’s easier to disseminate the information since they are strongly connected with the community.