Tuesday, October 17, 2017

3 Things People With Disabilities Want You To Know

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It’s a sad reality of the world, but it’s true: people with disabilities often experience hate crime. This might seem like an absurd notion to most of us, but it’s nevertheless an experience that many with disabilities are forced to confront. The vast majority of these hate crimes find their root in ignorance; a lack of understanding from the non-disabled populace about what it’s like to experience life with a disability.

Myself - my mother is a wheelchair user, and it's something I've come to terms with over the years as she herself has. It wasn't something I was appreciative of as a child (a bratty, snotty child at that) but seeing her blossom into the woman she is today is something I really find comfort in.

In an effort to challenge that, here are a few of the basic facts that people with disabilities wish were more well known…

Wheelchairs ≠ Being Unable To Walk/Stand - Every so often, someone will post to social media, furious that someone in a wheelchair has been caught on camera standing up. This most commonly happens at sporting events, where wheelchair users are afforded special seating arrangements. The implication is simple; if the person can stand, then they don’t need a wheelchair. This just isn’t true. Wheelchairs are not for the reserve of those who cannot walk at all. They’re used by people who can’t walk long distances, who tire easily, who can only stand or walk for a small amount of time before experiencing pain. If someone uses a wheelchair for these reasons, sure, they can stand up for awhile-- but that doesn’t make their need of a wheelchair any less legitimate.

A Disability Does Not Make You A “Scrounger” - The press love to inflame the idea that people with disabilities are faking it and thus are scrounging off the state. This isn’t the case. Firstly, if someone is deemed to need financial help as they cannot work, then that should be the end of the matter. The tests for disability benefits are rigorous, and the fraud rate is only 0.5%. Furthermore, many people with disabilities work just the same as anyone else. In fact, the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) can be claimed regardless of income; it’s to help with the further costs of disability, not to replace income. People can work, claim PIP, take out disabled life assurance, pay their bills, have hopes and dreams and fears, and otherwise live a life that most non-disabled people would recognise. PIP is not means-tested, so it’d be wonderful if the media could accept this and cease conflating it with Employment Support Allowance (ESA), which is means-tested.

Good Days Exist - If a person is living with a disability, then many non-disabled people assume they must always be at their worst. This is not the case. Like almost anything else to do with the human condition, there are good days and bad days. People with disabilities will have days when they can barely move, and others when they’re able to go out and enjoy themselves. If you meet someone who seems totally healthy, don’t assume they don’t have a disability; they might just be having a good day.

Understanding of life with disabilities needs to increase greatly in the UK. Hopefully, after reading through the above, you will be better off for the information provided.
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