We all meet all kinds of people every day, and sadly have to deal with discrimination and barriers that able-bodied people will rarely even notice, but not everything is deliberate. Challenging misconceptions about people with disabilities is important, as education can help ease those barriers and reduce that discrimination over time. For some people, such misconceptions are not made maliciously, and replacing this unbalanced image of the disabled with one of reality can make a remarkable difference in the attitude of those we meet as we go about our lives.
With that in mind, here are the five most common misconceptions about disabled people today, and why they can be a problem to deal with so regularly.
1. Disabled people need help with everything
This is a misconception that can be annoying, but it is one that comes from a good place usually. When someone is over-eager to help, assuming that if someone is disabled they cannot do anything for themselves, it can cause friction between people, especially if the disabled person is particularly independently minded. A symptom of this is for people to talk to whoever is with the disabled person, even when asking about them, instead of talking directly to that disabled person themselves. That, as most who have experienced it know, can be incredibly frustrating.
2. People in wheelchairs are also Learning/Mental/Emotionally Disabled
This is a very common thing to find when meeting people with no experience of being around anyone disabled. A wheelchair seems to be a signal that everything is wrong with that person to some, of course, this is very far from the truth. Rather than assume anything as soon as a wheelchair is seen, engage with people and ask.
3. Disabled People cannot get jobs
It’s often heard, people assume that if you are disabled, you are incapable of work. While some disabilities may pose problems with some career paths, disability is not a barrier to working, and many disabled people find rewarding and productive work. This is perhaps one of the most important myths to dispel, as it can be at the heart of some of the worst of the discrimination ideas heard.
4. Anyone disabled will instantly form a friendship with another disabled person
People can have a hard time seeing beyond the disability, and don’t realize that disabled or not, people are people, we all like different things, we all have different personalities, and we all have different tastes. Sometimes, people don’t get on, and a disability does not change that.
5. People with disabilities want to inspire others
If you get up in a morning, shower, dress yourself and get to work, it is just another day. That’s the same for everyone, and for many disabled people, suggesting they are an inspiration for doing that can seem condescending. Yes, they may have to do things in a different way, it probably is harder than for an able-bodied person, but an inspiration would be someone doing something extraordinary, not the normal day-to-day stuff.