One of the most unpleasant things about being a person with a disability has to deal with negative attitudes around you.
And it’s sad, but true, that it’s not uncommon that the people who look down at you because you are in a wheelchair or use a white cane to get around,
Are the very people who are supposed to help you and look after your interests?
Hospitals – especially government outfits – are, unfortunately, one of them.
People with disabilities are very much interested in trying to find out about their latest medical results.
They toss and turn in their beds with worry.
The first thing they unexpectedly receive is “greeted by” a rather plump, sour-faced, rude and grumpy face.
But what we do not like is being forced as a person with a disability is to take on the personal problems of the others.
Sometimes most places turn out to be places where more is done to ruin the “feel good factor” for you than to help you.
I have personal experience of numerous accounts from my friends with disabilities of horrible encounters with people with non-disabilities when they have to turn to them for help.
These include the frontline, the desk staff, higher-up officers and professional counselors in the society.
People with disabilities are treated with little respect and sometimes, no respect at all.
They can’t get assistance from the car park; no one is there to help those open heavy doors (which shouldn’t be there) in the department’s office.
Few would offer them a smile. Waiting to be attended to can take forever. Asking more than a couple of questions would be frowned upon.
Many of them are spoken to condescendingly, whilst others are literally not spoken to at all!
Some people turn their attention to their able-bodied helpers instead, assuming the real clients are unable to speak – or have little intelligence to
I myself have come across frontline staff that was very impersonal with me, with their officious and detached tones.
Sometimes people dealing with us are so impersonal and snobbish that I was made to feel as if I should be “grateful” that they were even trying to help
Me in the first place.
As a trained person with a disability I, having served for over 15 years of well-known service in the disability field nationally and internationally, making a person feel
This way is the worst thing you can do to someone’s psyche when they come to you for assistance.
The question which really needs to be asked here is how well and properly trained people in the society are to help persons with disabilities.
Does each and every one of these able-bodied workers even realise that it is because of their clients that they have their jobs in the first place?
The good news, however, is all this now appears to be changing.
But whether this is happening only just in the urban the rural remains to be seen.
Several people with disabilities whom I have spoken to told me that now some people are more polite and genuinely caring towards them.
Many of us think these changes are coming about because of the advocacy and lobbying done in the disability field.
Department of Social Services organizes a social dialogue to discuss several areas of disability every month. This is a platform where persons with disabilities and persons with non-disabilities can take part to make justice for all. In March Ms. Manique Gunaratne did a presentation on “Enhancing ethics and etiquettes to promote social justice for children with special needs” at the Department of Social Services.