People with mobility, sensory and other impairments can often be isolated from their community and environment. As a result, they may go unrecognised and unappreciated. It is essential that action is taken to ensure that disabled people alike are empowered through effective representation and consultation, so that they can contribute to society and have an impact on the world around them as well as being in control of their own lives and influencing the decisions that are often made on their behalf.
Some barriers that can impair the way we perceive people with disabilities include the impairment itself– you do not need to have in-depth knowledge of each specific impairment but we need to ensure that the information we transmit is clear so that impairments are properly understood and that we do not make assumptions based on faulty interpretation. Sometimes this process can be time-consuming, but it is necessary to ensure that the disabled in our society have their right’s preserved and respected.
Communication is a two-way process and a shared responsibility. It is also important to recognise that we all have certain living requirements, and so promoting clear communication is good practice for all. Unfortunately, there are still people who interpret a person’s lack of ordinary mobility, communication, etc as stupidity. This attitude is the biggest barrier to positive change. There is also an assumption that some people with multiple impairments are unable to live full and meaningful lives. This is not true.
As part of my Courageous citizen research and developmental grant, I have been communicating my story with children in different settings and building a method by which communication is achieved to our youth. Their willingness to learn, to understand the different impairments that make up the people in our society is breath-taking and does not mean expensive software. Building a relationship through an honest approach is the best form of communication for all and promoting positive change.