Living with a disability whether it’s sight loss, mobility, hearing impairment or the thousands of other conditions people around the world live with can be isolating. Often we spend long periods on our own or we feel at times like we are the only ones going through it. The many misconceptions and the lack of awareness can mean going out can be spoiled by negative interactions. Disabled people are often subject to discrimination. Public places not truly accessible, guide dogs refused access. Things like this still happen far too often and every time someone with a disability experiences these things it leads to us feeling more isolated.
So what can we do to change things?
How can we educate more people about how to interact with people living with disabilities?
In a recent study here in the U.K. found that half of disabled people have experienced loneliness, an inquiry found.
Research by the national disability charity Sense, on behalf of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, also revealed that a quarter of Brits admitted that they had avoided conversations with disabled people.
Only half of those who responded to the study believed that they had much in common with disabled people.
And those in the Yorkshire were twice as likely never to have met a disabled person and were the most likely to find talking to one ‘upsetting’.
Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves MP, co-chair of the Jo Cox Commission, said: “Many of the barriers to building social connections for disabled people are practical ones, such as the need for accessible transport and buildings, financial support and appropriate social care; but public attitudes also play a part in the risk of loneliness for people with disability.
“Increasing awareness of different conditions and battling misconceptions about disability are both important steps to help reduce loneliness amongst disabled people.”
Fellow co-chair, Seema Kennedy MP, added: “Jo Cox strongly believed that we have far more in common than that which divides us. However, disabled people are often marginalised from friendship because of poor levels of public understanding. These misconceptions can sometimes cause people to assume that they won’t have much in common with someone who has a disability, and in some cases can even prevent individuals from engaging in conversations with disabled people altogether.
“To help fight loneliness, it is vital that we all focus on our similarities rather than our differences. We can all create connections, find common interests and form friendships by taking the time to start a conversation”
Clearly we need to change things like this so though this poem I’ll start the conversation. It’s up to you to carry this on.
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Let’s start the conversation about how the blind can see
Let’s talk about the spectrum within disability
The lack of education makes some people stop and stare
it doesn’t mean I cannot walk if I’m in a wheelchair
It doesn’t mean I cannot hear if I’ve a hearing aid
There’s varying degrees of sight these things decline in shades
But there are still too many who will judge when they’re not right
It’s really not that difficult
it’s not all black and white
Yet here we are still trying change the things that they should know
the affects are isolating limit where some people go
Too many stay in doors avoiding looks of strangers doubt
but staying home alone is not what life is all about
There’s far too many places in this world you should explore
It’s not an excuse to do less
but a reason to do more
I’m leading by example to my children I’ll inspire
they’ll take the bar that I have set and lift that thing much higher
Although I am disabled I am able to succeed
for there’s no valid reason that our goals we can’t exceed
So let’s start the conversation about all that they believe
let’s change the misconceptions
change the way we are perceived