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Why does disability matter: Personal perspectives

Deeper contextual understanding of disability through personal experiences
YETNEBERSH NIGUSSIE: Having a disability has impacted my life in a number of ways. First of all, I am given the responsibility of proving who I am, because there is already an existing assumption about who I should be among the community. So I have to go extra miles to show them I am a person with one disability and remaining 99 abilities. Secondly, in my day-to-day life, I do face failures, because this world is mainly constructed for those without disabilities. So barriers exist in communication, barriers exist in moving from place to place, barriers exist in accessing services. So it requires me to go beyond what others do, or beyond where others go, to access ordinary services that others get.
So I would say it has increased effort on my side. In the meantime, it takes time, but in the meantime, it also increases my resilience to challenges in life.
BRANDON: It’s opened my eyes quite a bit, actually. I mean, I’ve been living with it for five years now, so a lot of people would see me still as a rookie, and I feel like I’ve grown so much as a person. You learn to not take so many things for granted.
In day-to-day life, you really appreciate the small things. It changes your views and what you prioritise in life. And day-to-day, you notice a lot more small things that you wouldn’t have noticed before, things like how even the ground is, or if a building has a smooth interior or if there’s steps, or whatever, if there’s enough space for parking bays. You really do realise how inaccessible some areas of society has been made, because it’s not about us trying to adapt. It’s just about others accommodating to our needs, like anybody else.
RIDA: It is anxiety. It creates a lot of anxiety, because you’re very aware of where you’re going, what you are doing, especially out in the public. You do not want to feel like you’re further alienated or kept from doing things. But unfortunately, services and products are not really geared around my difference, and hence, I feel my disability much more.
RICHARD: It has impacted me, having a psychosocial disability, dramatically, intensely.
I think I haven’t achieved what I could have achieved as quickly as I could, as quickly as I should have achieved it. I think because of my symptoms of lack of concentration, loss of memory, due to the OCD, but also to the medication, I’m quite slow in my development and progress of my career and my goals in life.
HILARY: It’s done a 180 degree turn in my life, where everything just– what you thought was normal went out the window, and it’s a new– the learning curve about disability, what therapies are out there, what you can do, how I can help my child, tools of communication. Yeah, it’s just unbelievable. The learning curve is just– self-study, reading up, doing research for myself. I went for sign language classes so I can teach her a form of communication. So it’s just been completely to the other side of where I was going to go with my life
CLEONE: If you’re not born with a disability and you acquire a disability later on in life, you accept it with almost preconceived ideas of how disability is accepted in society. So that had a huge impact on my life, coming into the world of now being a disabled person, was how I thought people with disabilities were perceived, and how I thought people would look at me or perceive me as a person with a disability, just judging by the outward appearance and not really looking beyond that to see, does disability define you?
CHRISTELLE: I think having a disability impacted my life in a way that it was kind of positive, even though there is these negative aspects to it. And the reason I say positive, I mean, through all the things that you go through as a disabled person, negative things, it builds character and it builds strength, because you have to endure so much more things than the average person. And so would I have been the same person, or the same character, did I not go through the things that I went through or am going through as a disabled person? So I think it does have a tremendous impact on the person that I am and will be.

In this step, listen to people with disabilities, and the mother of a child with a disability, from around the world sharing their personal perspectives about why disability matters to them.

Yetnebersh, Brandon, Rida, Richard, Hilary, Cleone and Christelle share their personal experiences.

Enjoy hearing their reflections, and remember you can respond in the comments section below if you want to share your own perspectives or thoughts after hearing their answers.

This article is from the free online

Global Health and Disability

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