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Disabilities: Understanding Disabilities

Disabilities: Understanding Disabilities


There are around 650 million people in the world that have disabilities, yet most people are still quite ignorant about it.

What do you think of when you see the word ‘disability’?

Wheelchairs? White sticks? The Paralympics? Most of us have never really thought about it. Want the legal definition?

“Someone who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.

This affects about 650 million of us, worldwide. About one in every six adults of working age in the UK. Only 17% of people with a disability are born with it.

Most become disabled during the course of their life. So maybe the term Temporarily Able Bodied (TAB) is better for those of us who are not disabled, because we may not stay that way forever.

How does disability affect people?

Imagine not being able to see. Or not being able to walk. Think of all the things that would be different.

School: How can I get my education? What about my future?
Friends: Would they still want to hang out? Will strangers laugh at me in the street?
Snogs: Am I still sexy? Who will date me now?
Life: What can I do on my gap year? Can I get my own place? What job can I do?

Clearly having a disability can affect most things in a person’s life.

Disability and the law

There are laws to prevent people with disabilities being treated unfairly. Just as sexism and racism are disgusting and illegal, so is discriminating against someone who is differently abled.

The label ‘disabled’ is not always helpful. Even if someone meets the legal definition, they may not see themselves that way. Instead of thinking about what is ‘wrong’ with people, or noticing what they can’t do, we should be looking at how we like to live. And trying to make it possible for everyone to join in.

After all – what is normal?

People with disabilities don’t need pity. But better understanding would be a start.

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