Personal Experiences and Perceptions of Disability

Posted: October 17th, 2013









Personal Experiences and Perceptions of Disability




Personal Experiences and Perceptions of Disability

A disability is a general term that covers activity limitations, impairments and participation restrictions. Impairment is a difficulty in body structure or function while an activity limitation is a complexity experienced by a person in executing a duty or action. Thus, a disability is an intricate phenomenon, reflecting relations between body features and aspects of the society in which the individual lives in. A different perspective of how a person with a disability views the world is brought out on close interaction with them. Many issues arise out of our ignorance and lack of concern for these individuals when we should be paying more attention to them.

A memorable experience occurred when a major event was organized in the campus for people with disabilities within the university. This occasion was the first of its kind, and it would change the attitude of any person who attended it. The event was dubbed, ‘Special Disabilities Day’. The group I was in took the leading role in setting up the venue, purchasing gifts, catering for refreshments and ushering the visitors throughout the whole period. Various high schools took part, as well as renowned personalities who have encountered life while struggling with a disability and succeeded. Musical instruments, powerful sound and vibrant emcees made sure the day started on a high note. It was suggested that the participants should mix up and interact on a wide scale from beginning to end.

At this point, I was scared because my first thought was how I would manage. I had such a compassionate feeling toward them thinking that they could not do most things. This outlook would soon change when I was caught by surprise and greeted by the person sitting next to me. At first glance, all I could see was the sight of this beautiful young high school student on a wheelchair. The smile on her face was so vibrant, and her eyes reflected hope in the entire hall. To avoid any uncomfortable talk, she would start with a normal conversation on how the day was so colorful and asked what it took to organize for such. Answering that question helped calm my nerves and the talk ensued smoothly with no problems. We talked about courses, food, family, campus life, and as the conversation followed, we would even share our life ambitions.

Later on, their high school was called upon to prepare for a presentation, and she would go for the idea head-on. I escorted her up the rostrum and then hurried back to get a front row seat of the show. What followed was a musical play that was so detailed. It had a theme about oppressing the physically disabled persons where the setting included bus stops, city streets, rainy days and even church. It brought out clearly how normal people stepped on, sidelined, ignored and even insulted the individuals for being exceptionally slow, a burden to bear and a displeasing sight to see. The play would climax at the end with a message about changing our perspective, my perspective and view them as people with special abilities.

This would be truly felt when the immediate activity was a sporting action, and indeed the specially enabled people outclassed the rest. Games especially involving witty skills were a strongpoint for them. I had the opportunity to further my understanding about the whole disability perspective, when my chat with her delved deep into the daily afflictions that she encountered. What came out strongly was that she was not somebody to be looked down upon, treated with empathy or offer apologies to for lack of natural lower limbs. That was a turning point in my thinking, and it went far to help me interact with any person with a special ability better than before. They are normal people just like me and any act that they cannot do well is replicated with one that they do extremely well, better than any other personality.

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