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How to interact with, talk to and approach disabled people

The answer to this is straightforward. It would be best to treat disabled people the same as everybody else. That way, you are a lot more inclusive and friendly.


In the past, and in some instances, I have been spoken to as if I cannot interact confidently with whoever I am speaking to. It is as if people think I am still a child and that person talking a lot more slowly and in a demeaning manner. Whenever this happens, a streak of unease and bewilderment thunderbolts through my body and deep down into my soul whilst I think to myself.


'Why does this person think I'm incapable of interacting with them confidently like anyone else?'


It's true. I was born with cerebral palsy and a speech impediment meaning that I suffered a brain injury at birth, which is why I have physical and neurological disabilities. Still, having these disabilities doesn't define me as a person and how I go about my life academically or interact with others.


I understand that there are many different types of disability, and these affect people in many different ways. Some people may need more help and assistance, but being different doesn't mean you are less able in other ways, such as academically. It just means that sometimes you may need to do certain things differently from others or take a little longer to do some activities. Stephen Hawkin is one fine example. Being one of the most knowledgeable people in the World. He never let his disabilities stop him from studying at Oxford University, where he received his first-class BA degree in Physics, which later meant he became one of the most well-known physicists in the World. His disabilities never stopped him from achieving what he did.


I have read that history suggests that being disabled many years ago was not that great. Research indicates that as far back as the early 1900s, disabled people were segregated from society. Little was known about the science and medical conditions surrounding the many kinds of disabilities. Fast-forward to today, and we live in a much more knowledgeable World. We have a better understanding of the so many disabilities that exist. Medically, treatments are vastly improving, allowing people with disabilities to live more independently and for longer.


According to research and reports, in the early 20th Century, scientists and politicians believed that euthanasia or even sterilisation of the mentally ill, those with learning disabilities and even physically disabled people was necessary to prevent society's degeneration.


Post World War One, the recognition of many more physical impairments heightened due to troops returning from the war with lost limbs. This was when the Central Council Of Care was set up (now Disability Rights UK) to reduce the 'burden' on society. This makes me think where the stigma of being a 'burden' comes from; rather than becoming an 'education' to culture, disabled people were supposed to hold society back, facing an uphill battle to become an integral part of the World. Unfortunately, in some aspects, this uphill battle still exists.


It wasn't until the 1930s that the Mental Treatment Act passed to end society's degeneration, introducing voluntary patient clinics and out-patient observation wards. This was a huge step forward from patients being segregated from society and the start of people getting support. Finally, in some cases, people with mental illnesses and learning disabilities could integrate into society.


In my mind, from around the 1940s, things started to change and get ever so slightly better for disabled people. 1944 saw the formation of 'The Disabled Persons (Employment) Act requiring employers with twenty or more employees to ensure that at least three per cent of their workforce are disabled. 1944 also brought about an amendment in the Education Act, stating that if disabled children are academically capable enough, the best place for them to learn is at a mainstream school. But, as my parents found out back in the 1980s, there are still instances where people have to still fight for the right of a disabled child to go to a mainstream school. The education authorities then wanted to send me to a special needs school, but my parents were adamant I would have a mainstream education. I am so glad they fought my case all the way. What I learned from an educational angle and interaction and social perspective has made me the strong-minded person I am today, so never give up.


Another reported milestone which helped improve the lives of disabled people was 1995, another pivotal year within the history of disabled people. Protests by disabled people led to the milestone introduction of the 'Disability Discrimination Act (1995)'. This Act now makes it illegal to discriminate against disabled people in connection with employment, the provision of goods, facilities and services or the disposal or management of premises. In addition, service providers must make reasonable adjustments to enable disabled people access.


The Disability Discrimination Act (1995) makes it much easier to access many services from personal experience. Things like having a disabled parking badge, a bus pass, and access to aids such as stair and bath handrails. These little things make my everyday chores so much easier. Other services, such as disabled transport, access to personal assistants, and the medication available to other disabled people, are only small commodities but are essential and greatly help the lives of disabled people in many different ways.


Every disabled person is different regarding assistance and how they get on with their lives. Whether it's with the provision of disability aids or needing a little personal help from time to time, service providers will have undoubtedly made past mistakes, under cared for people, misled and underperformed. But, we all can learn from the past. Suppose we, the disabled person, are able and willing. In that case, we can educate the government, local authorities and the public on how we do or can live our lives independently and more inclusively. I believe we can make the future a better place for everyone by being consulted much more on how society can become more inclusive. After all, we are best placed to advise on how to make these much-needed changes. Starting with making our society, venues, and outside spaces easily accessible for everyone by ensuring access to areas and amenities such as public toilets, retail outlets, and hospitality are at the forefront of our immediate and future regeneration projects. Then, by doing this, we can start turning our beautiful World into an inclusive one. We have some way to go yet for this to happen. Still, with the right mindset and consultation with disabled people, we can make huge strides and create a more inclusive and happy future.


Don't forget that both my children's books are available on Amazon. Here are the links:-


Max And The Magic Wish (All about disability and acceptance):- https://amzn.to/3OcCk7Y


Paddy The Polar Bear Teddy (A magical space adventure story about courage, wisdom and friendship):- https://amzn.to/3zvZ7aZ


Best wishes,

Gavin

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