I would like to take a moment to bring up the institutional discrimination in jobs and education that people with disabilities experience. I also want to bring up the lack of representation in politics, art, and media. The extremely high rates of abuse and neglect; and dangerous stereotyping that they face on a regular basis. Society often devalues and limit the potential of persons with disabilities. This includes visible and invisible disabilities.
I used to take public transport to travel to and from work. Since March of last year, I am no longer able to do so. There is no way I would be able to take a cramped bus ride anymore. I can stand up as the bus move or my legs will give out and I will hurt myself again. No one will offer me a seat because I am young and my disability is invisible.
My ex-father-in-common-law has a mental disability. If he doesn’t park in a handicap spot right at the entrance of the shopping centre, he will never be able to go home. He has a degenerative brain illness that affects short term memory.
Having an invisible condition can be a constant battle to be believed and understood by the world around you.
Myth: Only people in wheelchairs or the elderly should use handicap permit and parking space.
Fact: Many disabilities are invisible. Many of these conditions limit one’s mobility. Just because you can’t see the disability doesn’t mean it’s not there.
This is to say nothing of more “visible” disabilities which require things like wheelchair accommodations. I have a family member who is studying at university. She is able to use a special bus to go from home to the university and vice versa, but the bus would wait for a minimum of people so she would often wait up to 4 hours to get a ride back home or get late for a class.
There is a report that half of Canadians find it understandable if an employer hesitates to higher someone with a physical disability. Having a physical disability doesn’t affect a person’s productivity and value in the workplace. There is still a lot of prejudice towards people with physical disabilities which needs to be address and dismantled.
Lack of representation in art and media
The Para-Olympics barely got any air time running on the assumption that people would be less interested in Para-Olympics than they were about the regular Olympics. The same way as they assumed that women leads in movies couldn’t make money, but it’s now proven otherwise. Can we do the same with people who have disabilities?
High rates of abuse and neglect
The statistics on abuse and neglect on people with disabilities in Canada are heartbreaking. I would have thought that a Country that is renowned for being kind would have better care of the disability community. Here are a few of these statistics:
- 60% of women with disability have been assaulted, sexually assaulted or abused in their lifetime. & 51% of women with disabilities have been victim of domestic violence.
Lack of representation in politics
I do believe if there were politician with disabilities in position of power, there would be better changes to all of the items that affect the disabled. There would be someone who truly understand what challenges people with disability faces and would be better place to understand what solutions are needed.
The first step in doing this is raising awareness of the problem throughout Canada.
Just because you may not face discrimination, doesn’t mean others don’t. It’s about empathy and change for the better. Helping means taking your place as a listener and learner instead of always acting like a teacher. No matter how knowledgeable or passionate you are, there’s always more to discover and more nuances to understand.
“Give me knowledge, so I may have kindness for all.” – Plains Indian
We must continue to struggle so that diversity is always more recognised and represented.