December 3 is observed as International Day of Disabled Persons that is being promoted by United Nations since 1992.
This day aims at encouraging a better understanding about people affected by some disability, learning about their true abilities and being aware of their rights, dignity and welfare.
International Day of Disabled is not confined just to physical conditions, but it also encompasses mental disabilities like autism, down syndrome to neurological problems like multiple sclerosis.
Unfortunately, India is far behind in providing various comfortable facilities for the disabled. Our government buildings, hospitals, public places still lack ramps, there are no specially designed restrooms for those with physical disabilities, our public transport doesn’t offer any extra support system for them during travel.
A poor treatment and a negative comment can affect their self-esteem, confidence, performance at work place and push them into further depression.
If you have a loved one, a colleague or come across even a stranger with disabilities, read the following on what you could do to make their lives better.
Ask Before Offering Help:
Don’t assume that people with disabilities would always require some assistance in leading their lives and the first step is to treat them as equals. Understand that they know more about their needs and how to handle their day-today lives. In case, if you want to extend any support, ask first. Understand their needs and learn about specific details on how you can assist.
Speak Clearly, And Listen:
If you have a loved one or colleague with mental or developmental disabilities, always use simple words. Don’t use complex terms, explain your views in simple sentences and allow them to make their own decisions. Practice restraint and patience while dealing with those with speech disability as they take some time to finish their sentences. Do not try to interrupt the flow of speech by trying to complete their sentences.
Make Them Feel Confident:
Few disabled people may suffer from lack of self-esteem and confidence. Remember, many of them don’t like sympathy and don’t stare at them. Always make eye contact while talking and do not try to strike up a conversation around their disabilities. If you are conversing with a person in a wheelchair sit down and talk face-to-face, instead of talking down to them.
Respect Personal Space:
People with disabilities need their own space and may not like others touching their mobility aids without permission, as you may not know how to handle their equipment. If you want to move their wheelchair, ask for permission. Always knock on the doors before you enter the room, like you do with others. Do not discuss their disability with others.
If you are expecting a visitor with certain disability at home or in office, try making few simple changes that would make them feel comfortable. Place necessary items within their reach in restrooms, bedrooms, offer to help with items in shelves or cupboards. Also try and respect their daily routine and if there is a sudden change in the daily activities help them to cope up with the transition.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent stringent lockdowns, with rigorous social distancing norms and having to wear face masks at all times in public places have no doubt affected the ease of living for persons with disabilities as well, all over the world. Nevertheless, in these difficult times, when we are all going through various challenges on the personal, professional and health fronts, some simple steps help to ensure that disabled people can obtain what they need on a daily basis and assure one and all of an inclusive, cooperative and kind society.
Engage In Positive Conversations
While maintaining social distancing is the need of the hour to halt the further spread of coronavirus infection, keep in mind to not completely isolate the disabled in your community. Meet with visually challenged or physically handicapped people and talk to them about constructive topics like work, family, music or discuss happy memories from the past. This helps persons with disabilities have a sense of belonging and uplifts their overall mood and mental health in these tough times.
Offer Help With Medical Support
While it is quite simple for us to stock up on all our nutrition supplements and immunity boosters, go for health check-ups, consult a doctor online, besides buying any medications for other pre-existing conditions, it is not so easy for disabled people to acquire their healthcare needs amidst current partial lockdowns. Identify these people in your neighbourhood, sit down with them and help them order all their medicines online, set up doctor’s appointments virtually or take them to a nearby clinic for their routine medical check-ups.
Ensure They Receive Day-To-Day Needs
In these times of widespread infectious disease, it is very important to eat healthily and take meals on time. During the day, check up on your neighbours with disabilities, to make sure they have ample groceries and foodstuffs stocked up in their homes, to avoid going out frequently. In case they find it difficult to do so, go ahead and help them purchase their essential supplies online, ensure it gets delivered to their homes and their caretakers, house help is present every day to cook meals and provide them with nourishing food.