Attitudes Towards Disability
The documentary is a narration of real-life experiences of people with disabilities revealing how they cope with encountred challenges as well as other people’s attitude towards them. All the interviewees state that they feel a need for independence and fear being dependent on others. Additionally, many individuals think that disabled people cannot work or perform their duties, and they are always begging to assist. The documentary also touches on the topic of intimate life of disabled people who share their experience with difficulties in love particularly borne out of feelings of self-doubt. It is difficult for disabled people to date due to misconceptions such as inadequacies in love making. In the social setting, disabled people state that they face criticism and separation that makes them feel segregated. Disabled people are not popular and some friends even avoid them, while those in the larger community may mock them.
The topic of disability is important, because despite a huge number of people living with disabilities, there are many misconceptions about this group which complicate their everyday living. Many people with disabilities face more challenges than other people in accessing facilities or leading an ordinary life, with most of these challenges resulting from misplaced notions of the society. Therefore, there is a need to discuss these hindrances and misconceptions so that the society does more in terms of accommodating people with disabilities getting rid of stereotypes and prejudice.
The Disability Situation Around the World
Despite numerous legislations that culminated with the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the general perspective of the population towards people with disabilities has not changed. These negative attitudes are developed at a young age and tend to affect disabled children in particular. These children with disabilities are often invisible to service providers being at a greater risk of violence and often proportionately placed in alternative care (Unicef, 2012). Such practices cause them to have self-doubt and perform poorly in school. Teachers have also been found to have a less than positive attitude towards students with disabilities, and since they set the tone of classrooms, this also has an impact on attitudes of other students (Stanlland, 2009). As such, there is a need for improved teacher training programs that accommodate disability training as well as the provision of accommodation services which lack in most institutions.
The number of people living with disabilities has considerably grown, with over a billion of people or around 15% of the world’s population having some form of disability. In the U.S., it is estimated that over 56.7 million people or roughly 19% of the population live with disabilities. Most of disabled people face challenges finding gainful employment with an unemployment rate of 56% as compared to a 25% unemployment rate for their non-disabled counterparts. They also earn lower wages than their counterparts without disabilities. Overall, disabled adults in the U.S. earn a monthly average of $1,961 as compared with $2,724 for those without disabilities (Census Bureau, 2012). Such disparity makes them dependent on other people as well as on relief to meet their needs which are on average higher than those of a non-disabled person.
About 80% of the population thinks that disabled people are less productive than non-disabled people and 75% think that disabled people need special care, with mentally disabled people being affected the most by this stigma that comes from a general lack of comprehension of the needs of people with disabilities (Aiden & McCarthy, 2014). Most of these people treat disabled people as tragic, needy, and unable, and generally have a patronizing attitude towards them. Only 45% of adults with disabilities state that people treat them equally after learning of their disability. Disabled people also state that they experience challenges accessing public facilities either due to lack of accommodating facilities, loopholes in governing legislation, insufficient funding, and negligence of the authorities (WHO, 2011). There is thus little support or awareness about the rights of disabled people leading to increased social stigma.
In light of the research, there are numerous questions that I would like to ask the respondents in the documentary to get a deeper understanding of their situation.
- Have you faced obstacles with employment? People with disabilities face difficulties in finding jobs, but there is inadequate data on the forms of difficulties they face, the number of disabled people, or the reasons for employers failing to hire disabled people.
- What challenges do you face at work? For those who have found work, this question helps address any challenges that disabled people face in the work setting, be it from fellow employees, employers, customers, or in the performance of tasks. Disabled employees form a huge part of the working population, and thus alleviating challenges towards employment will enable them become more independent and also improve the economy.
- Has disability significantly affected your dating life? In the documentary, little intimate detail is shared about the dating life of the disabled respondents and the impact of disability on their relationships. The documentary does not reveal the misplaced notions of love, partners and marriage. Neither does it explain how different the experience is despite obvious issues that lead to feelings of segregation in the respondents.
- What are your biggest fears? The question will aid in understanding of whether disability affects one’s priorities and outlook in life, and what form the effect takes.
- Have you ever suffered from depression or mental illnesses? It is important to understand whether disability and the associated negative stigma can lead to feelings of depression and by what percentage if any. This will enable clinicians to assess whether there is a need for special counseling or policy changes for this group.
- What changes would you like to see introduced that will help disabled people? Traditionally, policy making has not considered significant input from affected groups. Thus, the question would help to understand whether there are any policy actions prioritized by disabled people that would make their lives better.
From the research, I have learned that there are many disabled people in the world who face widespread discrimination with numerous negative effects. As a result of discrimination, most of these disabled people cannot live independent lives thus developing the feelings of self-doubt and consequently having to do with low standards of life. Additionally, these people face segregation from friends, family, and even partners, hence they have difficulties receiving love. I have learned that these difficulties emanate from misplaced notions about disabled people, notions based on myth and not on fact.
The research has answered numerous questions I had regarding disabled people, particularly about how others perceive them. The research has addressed questions on day-to-day life, challenges faced by disabled people, their perception of the world, and intimate details. All my questions have not been addressed, however, I want to know these people as individuals and not as a group. I would also like to know more about historical shifts in society’s thoughts regarding disabled people and the reason for these trends. Lastly, I am interested in analyzing the measures in place to help people with disabilities, the success of these measures, and what more can be done to ensure a seamless integration with the larger community.
By gaining a wider comprehension of people with disabilities, I will be able to not only freely interact and co-exist with disabled people, but also contribute to my personal growth. By understanding the biases that people have towards others, I will be able to reveal my own personal biases and thus rectify any erroneous perceptions. It will also give me a deeper understanding of myself and my community, skills which will be beneficial for my personal wellbeing and prosperity.
In conclusion, people with disabilities face many challenges in their daily living. They are discriminated by friends, family, and the community who perceive them as weak beings in need of help. There are also numerous misconceptions regarding their abilities that have made them face challenges in finding employment and love. These challenges emanate from the ignorance of the larger community perceiving people with disabilities differently, even though there are more similarities than differences between these two groups. There is a need to eliminate these misconceptions and promote more harmonious living, which will only be possible by having an open discussion regarding negative attitudes towards disabled people and how to alleviate them.
Aiden, H., & McCarthy, A. (2014). Current attitudes towards disabled people. Cambridge: Opinium.
Census Bureau. (2012, July 25). Nearly 1 in 5 people have a disability in the U.S. Census Bureau Reports. The U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved from: https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/miscellaneous/cb12-134.html
Stanlland, L. (2009). Public perceptions of disabled people. London: Office for Disability Issues.
Unicef. (2012, December 3). Changing attitudes towards people with disabilities. Retrieved from: unicef.org: https://www.unicef.org/protection/index_66543.html
WHO. (2011). World report on disability. Geneva: World Health Organization.