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Does Society Take People With Disabilities Seriously?

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I am a person with a disability. I have cerebral palsy, and I am an amputee and a wheelchair user. When I am discussing disability with an able-bodied person, I often wonder if they are listening to what I have to say or are just pretending to listen. I feel some people can give off the vibe of having pity for the individual with a disability they are speaking to. Some people may feel better about themselves if they are giving someone who is disabled attention, rather than actually listening to them and what they have to say. I honestly believe this is based on the individuals and the beliefs society has put on us when it comes to interacting with people with disabilities.

A perfect example of this for me is the documentary “Crip Camp.” This film highlights the disability rights movement. I have grown to love this movie and watched it with several different people to see if they are interested in learning about disability. I chose individuals I do not think would normally watch the movie on their own. Seeing other’s reactions and thoughts is a truly telling experience. I have expressed what a big deal “Crip Camp” is and how it shows society how much we are capable of accomplishing. Watching the movie led to many long discussions about disability and their views on disability. Some people take the movie only at face value rather than exploring the valuable lessons it contains. Using this movie as a tool along with other resources has truly given me a sense of who wants to learn more and embrace other people’s differences.

I think as a society we need to do better with truly listening and taking people with disabilities seriously, not just when it is more convenient. I believe that if people started truly listening and taking people with disabilities seriously — and that includes not judging others with invisible disabilities for not being “disabled enough” to be a part of this community — it would help us on a multitude of levels, from growing as a community to becoming catalysts for change. We can all contribute to improving society, we just have to be given a chance. Showing someone you are truly listening and finding value in their words allows us all to feel more included, appreciated and acknowledged.

Getty image by Maroke.

Originally published: October 20, 2020
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