Having been born with Cerebral Palsy, I know what disability feels like. I feel very strongly that not enough is still being done to get disability out into the public domain and to keep it there. Unfortunately, disability is just one area in society that is being overlooked.
Statistics based on U.S. findings, report that nearly one in five people, including family, friends, co-workers and neighbours live with a physical or developmental challenge, but those challenges may not always be obvious. Out of 56 million Americans who report their disability approximately half are working-age adults.
According, to the US Census Bureau only about 12 million are currently employed. There needs to be far more acceptance of disability before disabled people make it into the work place. Unfortunately, there is still a stigma attached to disability and until attitudes change, very little will change for disabled people, in society or in the workplace.
Although people may not buy into the stigma theory around disability, if the shoe were on the other foot, they would see for themselves why it’s still there. Only when we walk in another person’s shoes, do we see life from another person’s perspective.
Unless society changes its perceptions about disability, very few people with disabilities will find employment. For those with a disability who are lucky enough to be in work, they worry their opportunity for advancement will be limited long term, because of people’s continued perceptions on disability in the workplace and how those people with disabilities will cope with their disability in the work scenario.
Although we have made some railroad, attitudes and perceptions around disability are keeping the world stuck. We need to have more encouragement from society and employers alike, who will embrace people with disabilities and the disability culture as a whole.
To help people with disabilities we need to talk about disability. Perhaps disability needs to be seen, as normal. The irony is that people with disabilities are normal, but a different normal. But without that happening, I see very little change.