Disability is no longer a barrier or restriction. It is an umbrella term used in a broader way to describe all forms of differently-abled. Disability can however be put into three different types Impairment, Activity limitation, participation restrictions. Impairment is used for people who are either physically or mentally disabled. Activity limitation is the term used to describe difficulty seeing, hearing, walking, or perhaps inability to solve problems. Participation restriction describes difficulty to involve in different life experiences such as social engagement, etc.
Apart from the physical or mental barriers, disabled people often have to face various other barriers, having a greater impact. The root cause of any barrier is the non-inclusive nature of society. Every country has its understanding and standards to determine a disabled person. Despite the difference in approach, lack of disability inclusion remains common in many countries. The inequality and unfair treatment deprive people with disability of the opportunity to be equal players in the field. The standard definition of disability does not exist. Every culture develops its understanding of disability. The barriers faced by a disabled individual may vary from one society to another. At times, these barriers may occur in a combination of two or more.
The barrier to communication is common for people with difficulty in hearing, speaking, or even comprehending in general. Lack of inclusiveness in printed media/messages, small print or no braille for the vision impaired, auditory messages without captions or interpretations using sign language creates a barrier for the hearing impaired, lastly, technical language or long sentences of words with many syllables causes difficulty for cognitively impaired to comprehend the message, unlike a person without a disability.
The disabled population has faced the most prejudice by society than any other minority of the world. The group has been looked upon with pity, fear, and denigration. The attitude towards the disabled may vary from society to society, coming from how society perceives disability as a whole, however, the misconceptions regarding disability emerge from a lack of awareness about the diversity in types of disabilities. Common attitudinal barriers for the disabled include:
Stereotyping- people with disabilities are considered incompetent, feeble, and subservient individuals. The common stereotype is that people with disabilities are not only dependent to be taken care of, but also are far from having any decision-making skills. Such as, mute people are often presumed to have a hearing impairment, more so they may also be presumed to be cognitively impaired.
Stigma, prejudice, and discrimination- many societies have formed their perceptions towards disability based on the ‘fits in all’ approach i.e., refusing to learn facts about the types of disability, similar perceptions are passed on, a person with hearing disability may be physically fit and eligible for a cooperate job, yet they are discriminated and prejudged to be unfit for the job and the misconception continues the inability to hear without their hearing aid will hinder employee’s performance.
Living conditions of people with disability may be faced by social hurdles that may hinder their access to employment, education, and a higher living standard. People with disabilities, regardless of the type are less likely to be employed than people without disabilities. Adults with disability barely finish college, eventually leading to people with disability. Thereby ending up with an income of less than $1500 than people without disability, the ratio being 22.3:7.3. According to the cases reported, children with disabilities are four times more likely to experience sexual violence than children without disabilities.
Obstacles that hinder the movement of a person physically, such as steps or curbs. Such situations are usually not wheelchair/crutch friendly, weight scales are not specialized for wheelchairs. Many stores have push/pull doors installed in the entrance. This makes it impossible for people in wheelchairs or crutch to use force to push/pull open the door single-handedly.
This is a barrier that impedes a person to travel from place to place, further making them dependent for carrying out trivial or everyday tasks. This barrier usually occurs under two circumstances, either convenient and private transportation is not available for commute, or the city’s public transit does not accommodate disability such as local buses barely have an arrangement for wheelchair-bound, in some cases, the bus-stop may be at an inconvenient distance for people on crutches.
Also known as the policy barrier, stems from the lack of inclusion of disabled people in policy-making. Prejudice policies, that unjustly discriminate against people with disability. Such policies are a result of lack of inclusion and omission of people with disability. Such as, the first-hand example of such a systematic barrier can be the education policy that determines the intelligence and capabilities of a child with a single curriculum policy overlooking the children with cognitive/hearing/speaking impairments who, as a result, are unable to cope with their fellows without these disabilities. Refusing to appoint people with physical disability job opportunities, despite being qualified and eligible for the post. Government programs/services/benefits do not include disabled, nor compensate for the inability to provide equal opportunities to the world’s largest minority population.
In conclusion, there is a dire need to shift the narrative of society from viewing disability as an individual shortcoming. But rather a segment of people calling for our united support empowering them to have a dignified life. As a part of society, it becomes our moral obligation to pay attention to those who must be included and treated as equals. Despite various laws and policies giving rights to the disabled community, they are left out of many facilities, programs, and opportunities. The policymakers should meticulously examine the inclusion and accessibility of disabled people.
Disabled people need not be overly-praised for performing trivial deeds. They don’t ask to be given the extra margin for breaking the law; Nor should they be overlooked, ignored, and omitted. Treating them as equals is what we should do, as a community.
About the Author:
21 years old, an aspiring writer. Her work includes short stories, articles, and business writings. Currently residing in Karachi, Pakistan, doesn’t eat pork!