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Articles > Life April, 11, 2016

We Are All Disabled, So Why Discriminate?

Afsheen Mahmood
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6.67 / 10

It seems so petty that, in this supposedly cultured, civilised, and technologically advanced society, there are single-minded people who fail to recognise those who suffer from disabilities as anything more than “cripples” or “retards”. Too many people believe that the disabled are weak and incapable doing anything for themselves. But if you think about it, everyone faces barriers in their life at some point, so really, in our own individual, unconventional ways, we are all disabled…


Photo by Shawn Campbell

Whether our inhibitions are physical, mental or maybe even social, each one of us suffers from some sort of daily difficulty. Why then, are those who’ve had to struggle from birth treated differently to everyone else? Perhaps those who discriminate against the disabled may do it out of some sort of subconscious fear, or maybe they do it out of ignorance. For some, it might be a way to reinforce a personal sense of superiority. In reality though, the offenders are exactly the same as those they offend.

I myself have witnessed an ignorant attack against a disabled citizen. My brother was born profoundly deaf, and when he started primary school, he was treated like an outsider. No other child at the school needed hearing aids, and he wasn’t given the attention he deserved from teachers. The distance between my brother and the other students once caused another child to tear my brother’s hearing aids off and destroy them. For a long time, my brother was helpless, and my family had to work hard to be his ears. We did everything for him. This helplessness among the disabled is too often overlooked or taken advantage of by the physically able.

“If students in all schools were taught about disability from a young age, then maybe discrimination wouldn’t be so prominent today”

I never though the teachers at the primary school dealt correctly with the incident. After my brother’s hearing aids were broken, teachers neglected to give him the care he needed, as well as failing to give the right kind of education about disability and treating others equally. If students in all schools were taught about disability from a young age, then maybe discrimination wouldn’t be so prominent today.

Finally, my brother received a cochlear implant, which is a device capable of giving the sensation of sound to the profoundly deaf. This changed family life drastically, because at last, we could take a step back and let my brother learn and hear for himself. If my brother hadn’t received this, I don’t know what further abuse he could have faced.

Throughout my life, I’ve seen disability in more than just my brother. My great uncle had brain cancer, which greatly limited his ability to live a normal life. Doctors hadn’t given him long to live, and naturally he started to dwell on this fact. He lost interest and pleasure in everyday activities; lost weight, had trouble sleeping, was always emotionally unstable, felt tired and without energy, suffered from worthlessness and guilt, had trouble concentrating or making decisions, and even contemplated suicide. With so many things befalling my uncle, it could be said that he had a disability.

“At the end of the day we are all still human beings; human beings each with our own unique problems, who have evolved above the ‘survival of the fittest’ structure”

However, people wouldn’t dare discriminate against these sorts of conditions because doing so would declare them inhumane to onlookers. So why does this not seem to apply to typical disabilities?

People who think about acting derogatorily towards the physically impaired are not worth knowing. Disabled people are the highest risk group for abuse and violence, and those who mock them are just fuel for the fire. Everyone can help to improve the protection and well-being of people with special needs. At the end of the day we are all still human beings; human beings each with our own unique problems, who have evolved above the ‘survival of the fittest’ structure, which some heartless people seem to still promote. No one, impaired or not, should have to feel or be made a separate part of this world.

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  1. Aisha Awan

    Great article! Especially agree with the importance of educating children about disabilities from a young age, it needs to happen in schools.

  2. Rose Spencer

    My brother is 15 and is in a wheelchair, he is training to become one of the best Paralympic wheelchair racers in the world… He was bullied through his first few years of secondary school for being “different”. He is no different from an able body person, his wheels are his legs and people never look further than the chair, he is as capable and if not more so than anyone with able working legs and the same goes for any disability. A person should not be judged by a disability and in this day in age discrimination towards disability should not be accepted. I agree that there needs to be education for the future generations about disability to show how a disabled person is no different from anyone else and should not be viewed as different. I think disability education should be taught along side religious education, were taught that religion can not define a person nor what they believe, were shown to respect religion and how just because you believe in a certain God does not class you as different, this should be the same for disability. More needs to be done to stand up to those who are childish enough to bully based on a disability, a disability is not a choice a person has to live with it for a life time. They are not “different” and should not be viewed as different

  3. mostafa

    I think…This is great

  4. Zoe Boots

    I think…you are so right! I see it in school all the time, the kids who aren’t classed as ‘normal’ because they have a disability of some kind. They have feelings and want and deserve to be included in the activities that the other kids do. They are no different from us, some people just can’t see that and refuse to accept them in society which affects them, their self esteem and ambitions/goals they will set for themselves in the future.

  5. Martina Milanese

    I really liked this article, it’s true everyone should stop for a moment and look at themselves instead of discriminate others