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I'm just trying to figure out this journey we call life

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Equality for disability

I believe that people should be treated for what they are and not other people's perceptions or judgments on them. We all judge others and that's completely natural. However I think we need to remember that our first judgments are usually wrong. We tend to either under estimate or over estimate people and see them as more than they are. However, I think that snap judgments based on a person's physical abilities or disabilities are the worst misjudgments possible. If you automatically think that someone with any kind of disability is "amazing" or "inspirational" just because they live like everyone else only with a disability or special need then you're being unfair to the person.

When people think that a picture of a child with downs syndrome on tumblr deserves a lot of notes simply because they have downs syndrome, it gets to me. Honestly, I don't think it's right. Yes, the child's cute but just because they have a disability doesn't mean that a picture of them doing something a child without disability would do deserves any more notes than this child. You might think that you're promoting inclusion or spreading a good message but really you're not: you're making the child become their disability. That's not inclusion, that's putting them on a pedestal that they are only on because of their disability. I can only think that doing that promotes completely the wrong image of disability in society.

I saw this a lot with the paralympics: paralympic athletes are called inspiring even before they've won anything whereas an olympic athlete has to achieve to be labelled as inspiring. That isn't equality. Equality is treating everyone the same no matter what they have to overcome in order to get to where they want to go.

Of course I think that people who choose to make the most of life when they have to live with a very hard disability are amazing, but I also think that people who choose to make the most of life no matter what are amazing. Of course I think a child with downs syndrome is cute, but I also think that any other child is cute. As a society we need to get better at recognizing the person behind the disability and not letting a disability take a person's identity over completely.

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