It cannot be denied that disability remains a taboo subject within many societies around the world. Even today, people continue to perpetuate the idea that those with disabilities are less intelligent, less able, and thus incapable of becoming functioning members of society. As a result, many of them are sidelined and fall between the cracks of traditionally recognised respectability. These people are denied their rights, their equal opportunities, and are often separated from mainstream society.
Growing up as one of them, I am no stranger to the difficulties and inequalities they encounter, and I can say that little has been done to create the world that understand and cater the needs of disabled people.
The dilemma is a symptom of a problem that affects most minorities: limited empathy and understanding from the majority. In a world that was manufactured by and for non-disabled people, it often extremely difficult for disabled individuals to go through what many non-disabled people perceive as normal life. For these people, simple matters such as getting into building and going to the restroom can be very problematic if the environment has not been created for people of different abilities.
Education remains the greatest obstacle for the people with disabilities. In many parts of the world, public schools are often not ready to admit and accommodate students with special needs. Frequently, pressures must be applied to schools to provide suitable facilities. In the event they do not succeed, they have no choice but to be relegated to special needs education, which often has no appropriate curriculum. When these people can make it to higher education, they are frequently channeled by the colleges or universities into certain fields that are considered suitable for them. Consequently, they are left with limited choices and hence unlikely to have the education opportunities that can provide them access to highly valued and well-paid employments.
Moreover, the disabled people are also frequently denied from certain employments because they are perceived to be incapable. This dilemma has caused a large number of individuals with disabilities to be considerably less financially stable than their non-disabled counterparts. Employers often have no idea on how to accommodate disabled workers. In many cases there was a clear discrimination, with qualified candidates sidelined citing the lack of experiences in accommodating disabled employees.
Not only are the disabled being denied their basic rights, in many countries there are only few institutions offering help to people with special needs. Non-governmental organisations dealing specifically with these individuals around the word remain a minority. Laws to protect the rights of this marginalised community are often poorly created or non-existent. Disabled people are also frequently underrepresented in the government and policy-making process. As a result, their specific needs have not been heard and thus have not been addressed properly.
In short, being an individual with disabilities in a world that is not disabled-friendly means living a very limited life. It is clear that there are many have to be done in order to create a disabled-friendly world. A world without obstacles. A world where being disabled do not automatically equate with being disadvantaged.