It is necessary to understand common myths and misconceptions about persons with disabilities. Further, educating the general public on these myths and misconceptions can help ease these obstacles and minimize discrimination.
We encounter various types of individuals every day. People with disabilities regrettably face discrimination and obstacles in life. Most discrimination is due to some myths and misconceptions passed on from one generation to the other. Understanding these myths and misconceptions is a step towards fighting discrimination against persons with disabilities (PWDs).
In this respect, here are the five most common myths and misconceptions regarding people with disabilities nowadays:
1. All PWDs Use Wheelchairs
One common misconception is that all PWDs use wheelchairs. However, this cannot be any further from the truth. A wheelchair is just one type of assistive device used by persons with disabilities, usually physical ones. The device used depends on the specific disability that a person has. Therefore, not all PWDs use wheelchairs. Some Those with hearing impairments will use hearing aids, while those with visual impairments will use a white cane.
2. Saying “Disabled” will offend someone
The term “disabled” is a central term on the topic of disability. However, there are two ways of addressing people with disabilities — identifying them by their disability first or identifying them as a person first.
Briefly, disability-first identity means referring to someone as “a disabled person,” while the person-first-identity means referring to “a person with a disability.” Usually person-first identity is the most respectful way to refer to someone, but sometimes others prefer the other way around. Being sensitive is the most important thing here; taking note of what somebody’s preference is.
The social model of disability is a standard mode of understanding disability. This model does not consider individuals identified as disabled people to be disabled because of their deficiencies but because of society’s lack of understanding. Somebody’s not considered disabled because they can’t walk for a certain period – they’re considered disabled because some train stations lack step-free entry. It is a psychological disability created by society, but because of medical reasons. Because of that, disability is sometimes considered part of someone’s personality — it will somehow lose a portion of its existence as an individual uses the person-first language.
3. Only People With Mobility-Related Disabilities May Get a Blue Badge
The Blue Badge allows one to park in spaces other drivers cannot. Since PWDs often use the badge, many people assume that anyone else cannot use it. However, this is not true, as even non-disabled people can use the badge if they have medical conditions that allow them to do so. Such conditions include the inability to walk for long, inability to use both arms, chronic fatigue, among others.
4. Assistive Innovations Don’t Work/Exist
Technological advancement has made it possible to develop assistive devices that have made life easier for persons with disabilities. Such devices include wheelchairs, white canes, braille, hearing aids, crutches, and prosthetics. However, most people have condemned PWDs to long-life suffering due to lack of awareness. These people believe that not much can be done to improve the situation for persons with disabilities. This perception could explain why a person with a hearing impairment, uses a hearing aid, but will still have people shouting when speaking to them. The shouting is due to the assumption that no device can improve the hearing capability of such a person.
Nothing is further from the truth. Assistive innovations have made life bearable for PWDs. Persons with mobility-related disabilities can easily move around in wheelchairs; those with visual impairments can walk around using white canes, while those with amputated limbs can now use prosthetics and go on with their lives. Thus, assistive innovations exist and are effective.
5. People with Disabilities Can’t Be in Romantic Relationships
The assumption that PWDs cannot be in romantic relationships is troubling and widespread. Although it seems nearly absurd to mention it as a relevant point for debate, there exists a misunderstanding regarding romance for people with disabilities. PWDs can have healthy and happy romantic relationships just as able-body people do.