I attended a seminar at my workplace on Friday, on disability awareness. As we do deal with people who have various degrees of disabilities, the seminar taught us a few things we should keep in mind when interacting with them.
The person who gave the seminar, has cerebral palsy herself. Despite her speech impediment, I had no problems understanding her. She was a very bubbly person, her workshop was full of humour and zest. And I did learn a lot. Her key message was people with disabilities just wanted to be treated like people as a whole.
She wasn't asking us to ignore their disabilities, because let's be honest, they are the first things we notice. But let's look beyond their disabilities. They are people too, just like us. She mentioned how very often, when she's out with dining with her husband, or shopping with her daughters, that other people would just talk to either husband or her daughters as if she's not there.
She then had another speaker who was blind (totally no vision) who shared her experiences with us on how she coped with her day-to-day living, taking care of her kids (who are now all grown up) and how she uses a special machine to read out messages and even tells her the colour of the clothes when she's out shopping.
She now runs training courses for others who are visually impaired to learn to live with this disability. Majority of them are the elderly whose vision has deteriorated and to suddenly adapt to this loss of vision is indeed a scary experience.
Both these ladies have touched my heart that day. Their disabilities were not their choice. They couldn't do anything about them. But they accepted that fact, and went on to make the most of their lives. Making this world a much better place for those with disabilities as well as those without.
Kinda put things into perspective, doesn't it?