Posted by News Express | 16 December 2020 | 1,282 times
I remember in 2018, I was invited by a school to speak to the nursery children about people with disabilities. I started by asking how they felt disabled people should be helped. The first response was ‘by giving them money’. Then came other responses like, ‘by being kind to them’, ‘by helping them to cross the road’ etc. The children clearly believed the best way to help persons with disabilities was to have pity on them. This mindset is also ingrained in us as adults. After pity, we often think of doctors, specialist, therapists, special schools and even miracle performers to help make them as normal as possible again. This is known as the Medical Model.
This article is not to totally condemn pity and medical assistance. Money and resources have been spent and will continue to be spent on science and medical research that will enable disabled people to become as normal as possible again. Governments and civil societies should continue to dedicate funds to treatments, wheelchairs, special schools, crafts centers to help them improve with their situation.
However, we cannot continue to focus on their impairment at the expense of many other abilities and potentials they have. In our minds, the impairment they suffer from is the source of their problems and what prevents them from being normal. Therefore, we continue to build and organize the society for normal people thereby disabling them from being fully part of the society and making them depend on us for almost everything.
We can really make life better for persons with disabilities by making the society inclusive such that they will be active in the society and live as independently as possible. This is known as the Social Model. This can only happen if the environment, spaces and surroundings are designed and organized in such a way that they can access them independently. Below are four basic steps needed for this to happen:
With these basic steps, we can make it easier for persons with disabilities to go to school, work, and move around the society for basic needs like shopping, recreation and health. They can live comfortably in houses and safely perform basic chores like cleaning, cooking and bathing. The more we see them every day, as fellow students, colleagues, customers, clients, the less we focus on their impairments and accept them as they are.
•Abdulwarees, the 2007/2008 Commonwealth Broadcasting Association scholar in Public Policy at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam is an assistant director of strategic planning and corporate development, Voice of Nigeria and a member of the Publicity Committee of the Muslim Coalition Against COVID-19 in Nigeria
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