Meet Kate, she has been living with MS for 26 years. She writes about her experience and explains why International Day of People with Disability is important.
International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is so important to me because it offers hope. Hope to those living with disability that this year we’ll take another step closer to becoming a truly inclusive Australia.
IDPwD asks us to ‘challenge the way you think about disability and help grow a more inclusive Australia’. As one of over 4 million people in Australia who lives with a disability, please can I implore you to do exactly this. For such a little nation we punch above our weight in so many areas, however, unfortunately presumptions about people with disability still prevail.
I have experienced such presumptions. Too many times people see my wheelchair and immediately start talking slower or louder to me, or even worse blatantly ask, ‘what’s wrong with you?’ Asked such an offensive question, my response is to simply hold out my hand and respond, “Hi I’m Kate, let’s start again”.
How can you help ‘build a more inclusive Australia’? You can ‘see the person, not the disability’ the way a shop owner in my local precinct did. After becoming aware that less than half of my local shops were accessible, I wrote a story highlighting this. With the help of a local journalist this story became front-page news in my local newspaper.
After seeing the story the local shop owner put a ramp outside her store, making it accessible. To me, that one act said ‘come in you’re welcome’.
Next time you see someone with a disability, look past the wheelchair, the walking aid, or any other immediate sign of impairment and see the whole person. Instead of thinking of those with disability and those without as 2 different and distinct groups, think of us as the same, just some of us have body parts that work better than the others.