Disability & Stigmatization
Any type of impairment between the mind and body which can cause problems while dealing with daily activities is known as a disability. Disability can either be physical something that can be seen or psychological and go unobserved. Moreover, each person suffering from disabilities, even the same one, and has different needs. Hence, disabilities are categorized into distinct groups to understand and treat them better.
Physical and Mental Disabilities are the two major classifications of disabilities. There are three further divisions of Mental Disabilities -Mental retardation(Mild MR, Moderate MR, etc.), Learning disability(Dyslexia, ADHD, etc.), and Mental disorders(Depression, Bipolar disorder, etc.). Mental retardation signals the limited functions of the brain with an IQ of 70, whereas a learning disability indicates difficulties with reading, writing, maths, reasoning, listening, and speaking. Mental Retardation relates to intelligence whereas, learning disabilities associates with the way they observe and perceive information differently than others. Lastly, mental disorders affect a person's mood, behavior causing emotional and behavioral problems.
On the other side, physical disability is a long-term condition, affecting the body's physical mobility, stamina, skill, etc. Since it affects normal body movement, doing daily activities is harder. Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Epilepsy are a few common physical disabilities affecting people.
These disabilities create a barrier between disabled people and society, as it's considered a disease, dependence, and helplessness. The negative beliefs that roam around disabled people prevent them from participating in societal events. The number of stigmas associated affects not only them but also their relations with people.
Stigmas related to disabilities:
● Disabled people have the stereotype of weakness and vulnerability surrounding them. If they have one type of disability, then they are prone to others too. For example, a person with speech impairment may also have a mental disability.
● Being socially avoided is also another stigma. Friends and family get distant, and strangers avoid giving eye contact, making it hard for disabled people to participate in social events.
● People with disabilities get denied when applying for jobs, housing, or any new opportunities due to discrimination associated with disabilities. Direct Discrimination occurs by treating disabled people less than they are. This discrimination occurs even after laws present for them. Moreover, costs for healthcare are high, and due to the low job and education opportunities, paying for healthcare is tough.
● Disabled people are either coddled and overprotected or blamed for their disabilities and using them for unfair benefits. Harassment is also a common thing occurring to disabled people. They feel humiliated when their peers call them names and insult them due to their disabilities.
● Entertainment and education centers and other organizations don't make the proper adjustments for disabled people to enjoy the services. For example, disabled people don't have easy access to the washrooms they require.
● After some time, disabled people start accepting the stigma and negative beliefs. This internalization of stigma makes them embarrassed and ashamed of their disabilities.
● Hate crimes, sexual and physical violence is prone to occur with disabled people more than ordinary people, especially women. Furthermore, victimization and bad behavior occur when they strive to stand up for themselves.
Instead of believing such stigmas, one can respectfully hold conversations with disabled people in ordinary language. If they're sitting or in a wheelchair, talk to them at eye level, not in a position where they have to strain their neck. Do not assume what they need; ask them what they want and respect their space. Furthermore, when going out, make sure the building has the accessibility of the services so disabled people can move independently. Try to introduce them to people who could help them in certain ways through mutual experience.