The Disabled: Ashamed and Disregarded

December 3, 2018, marks the 16th annual international day of persons with disability. Join us at AbiliTrek in celebrating the disability community by educating yourself on the complex topic of disability.

The Disability Community is the largest minority in both the United States and the World; over 56 million Americans and over 1 billion people throughout the world live with a disability. Right now the disability community is greatly underrepresented–like in the media and in education. This leads to social barriers such as misunderstandings and ignorance regarding disability. The Disability Community needs to be known, and who better to learn from than those of us who are already a part of this minority?

The disability community is the only minority that anyone can enter at any time without even knowing that they are going to become a member. Disability does not discriminate; no matter what age you are, class to which you belong, or with which identity you identify, you can be(come) a part of the disability community.

Nevertheless, many people that have hidden disabilities or even those with more obvious disabilities try to the best of their ability to hide their disabilities. This prevents them from getting the proper assistance or finding the community support that they need to be successful.

This refusal to acknowledge one’s disability is a reflection of our culture and how people are viewed. The perception of disability encourages people to not identify as disabled in hopes that people will not treat them differently.

Throughout history, disability has been used as a justification to be racist and sexist. Feeblemindedness. Weaker sex. Do these terms ring any bells from textbooks? These terms show that throughout history, disability has simply been recognized as innately bad. Until disability is understood as a basic part of life and looked at as a factor of bringing people together, “isms” such as sexism and racism will continue to live on.

Disability has also been viewed as a burden on society. Why would anyone want to identify with something that is innately bad or burdensome?

The perception of disability needs to change. This either needs to begin with the disability community themselves being okay with who they are or the community as a whole needs to educate themselves on disability and realize that disability is not innately bad. It is instead the perception of disability that is bad. Disability should be of importance to everyone as it already impacts so many people every day and because disability is an overarching web of intersectionality.

Disability is not bad nor is it inspirational or pitiful; it is a part of life, a characteristic that many people share. Disability should not be the justification of discrimination but instead the link in bringing people of all walks of life together.