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Dispelling Myths and Finding Facts about People with Disabilities

Everyone is fighting against stereotypes including people with disabilities. People with disabilities face many barriers beginning with how people perceive them, which is rooted in layers of misinformation and misunderstandings. People make assumptions about what it is like to live with a disability without ever hearing their stories. With this piece, I aim to shed some light on the reality of disabled people and dispel common myths surrounding this subject.    

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Disability does not necessarily mean limitation.

 7 Facts about disability 

  1. Over 1 billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, live with some form of disability. These rates are also increasing due to ageing and chronic health conditions.
  2. Disabilities disproportionately affect the following groups: lower-income countries, women, children, older adults, and adults living in poverty.
  3. Disabled people are four times more likely to report mistreatment and nearly three times as likely to be denied health care.
  4. Global data shows that only 53% of disabled men and 20% of disable women are employed.
  5. 90% of people with disabilities perform just as well or better than their peers.
  6. 86% of people with a disability have great attendance.
  7. 90% of Canadians know at least one person with a disability.
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Not all disabilities are visible to the common eye. The best trick is not to assume and to politely ask if curious.

5 Myths about People With Disabilities

Myth 1- People who use wheelchairs are chronically ill.

Fact- Since people who are hospitalized are often transported through wheelchairs, many people associate wheelchairs with illness. However, people may use wheelchairs for a variety of reasons such as a sports injury. It does not necessarily represent chronic illness.

Myth 2- Everyone with hearing disabilities can read lips.

Fact- Lip-reading skills differ depending on the individual and their skill set.

Myth 3- All blind people have a ‘sixth sense.’

Fact- Most blind people have heightened senses, but they do not literally have a ‘sixth sense.’

Myth 4- If you are curious, you should never directly ask people about their disabilities because it’s wrong.

Fact- Humans are naturally curious creatures especially children. They tend to ask questions that adults often deem as embarrassing. However, preventing people from asking questions or reprimanding them for asking too many questions turns the subject of disability into a taboo. It reinforces that idea that having a disability is “wrong” or “bad.” In reality, many people do not mind answering questions about disabilities, as long as you ask politely.

Myth 5: It is ok to park in accessible parking spaces for people with disabilities for a few minutes, even if you do not have a disability. 

Fact: Those accessible parking spaces are designed to accommodate the needs of only people with disabilities and should only be used by those who need them. 

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In the end, we are all humans. People with disabilities are no different so they should not be treated otherwise.

REFERENCES:

Bethel University. (n.d). Facts on Disabilities. https://www.bethel.edu/disability/faculty-staff/facts-disabilities

Savin, K. (2017, December 15). My Supercharged, Tricked Out, Bluetooth Wheelchair Life Force. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/15/opinion/my-wheelchair-commuter-friend.html

Top 10 facts promoting inclusion through education. Empower: The disability resource center. Retrieved on October 12, 2020, from https://www.empowernl.ca/about-disability/top-10-facts/

World Health Organization. (2017, November). 10 facts on disability. https://www.who.int/features/factfiles/disability/en/#:~:text=Fact%201%3A%20Over%20a%20billion,increase%20in%20chronic%20health%20conditions

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