Disability Awareness and the House of Lords post legislative scrutiny
In the UK there are 7 million people registered as disabled, that’s about 10%! Some of those disabilities will be catastrophic, these people will need 24 hour specialist care and within day to day society we will have limited contact with them. At the other end of the spectrum of disability are people who live independently and have lives that look very much like those who are able bodied. And as far as spectrum’s go, there is everything in between.
Most of us have experienced temporary disability, if we have ever been ill or injured, we are fortunate enough that we get better and that the illness or injury is not persisting. So if we have all experienced some level of disability, then hopefully that will give us the ability to have empathy for those who experience disability that does persist. I am of course not suggesting that illness and/or injury is the same as long term disability, just that it can give an insight into what it is like living with an issue.
There are lots of different diseases, injuries and conditions and we will not be able to experience them all, we can never fully understand what it is like to live with a disability, unless we do live with it. Disability is a personal thing and for those people who do talk about, they often don’t share all the details, but that is exactly the same as everyone, people don’t share all the details of their personal lives with others, just the bits we want to.
The biggest adaption that people living with dementia and other disabilities is a sense of kindness and compassion, as well as to be treated like a normal person and not just to be treated as a carrier for the disease, with people seeing only the disease. It is easier to forgive a blunder in the way that someone is spoken to, if the spirit in which they are spoken to is kindness.
The House of Lords post legislative scrutiny said that disability should be considered from the point of view of the person with disability, not the company/organisation or person trying to adapt to it. The only way to do that is to talk to that person and find out what is their priority and what they need to be done to support them. This may be a difficult conversation if this has never happened in this organisation before, but it is through these difficult conversations that better understanding of the issue will come. And once conversations about disability become more normalised, then accepting disability as a normal part of society will follow.
And next time an able bodied person becomes ill or injured, have empathy for the fact that you will get better, you are lucky and you do not have to live with this forever, others have a different experience.