Your Disabled Students Officers:
The Disability Discrimination Act, (2005) defines disability as ‘A physical or mental impairment, which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities’. This term refers to individual functioning, including physical impairment, sensory impairment, cognitive impairment, intellectual impairment, mental illness, and various types of chronic disease.
However it is important to note that this definition is quite negative and relates specifically to medical aspects of disability. It implies that disabled people are unable to do things or be involved. This is far from the truth as will be demonstrated to you within this website. Regardless of disability you can pretty much do anything depending on society allowing for the differences you may have. For example someone who is in a wheelchair can ski and skydive as long as the equipment is adapted for them to use.
Experiences of being disabled:
Disabled people come in many shapes and sizes and will each experience their disability differently to others, regardless of possibly having the same medical diagnosis. For example only 4% of those registered as blind have no vision at all.In the same way having a disability can have different impacts on different individuals, disability can impact on a huge variety of the different aspects of an individual. It can mean that a disabled person may not move, think, hear, see, read, behave or look exactly the same way as how society deems as an ‘ordinary’ person should.
Disability can have negative impacts on the individual as it can stop them from engaging in activities that they otherwise would like to become involved with. This can be demoralizing and have detrimental impacts on an individual’s mental health, self-esteem and confidence. For others changing or developing disabilities can lead to stressful situations that can involve world altering decisions for both the individual and their families such as whether or not to undergo medical treatment that may or may not improve or deteriate an individual’s condition. Some disabilities can require constant monitoring, hospital visits, operations, doctor’s appointments or support from those around them. This reliance on others can be stressful and lead to a lack of control over an individual’s life and life choices.
However, for a lot of individuals it is not often disability itself, which can have the most negative impact on an individual. Often within the media and in society in general, disability is seen as a negative thing, disabled people are depicted in films and on TV as either; bitter, evil and threatening, such as Captain Hook in Peter Pan or as helpless and weak such as the children you see on fundraising adverts. Disabled people are not seen on TV except as ‘issues’ within TV shows such as soaps, they do however appear in documentaries as victims, tragic figures, freaks of nature or scientific problems often being reduced to nothing more than just their disability.
For many disabled people it is not necessarily the disability itself that so negatively impacts on their day-to-day lives but the response that society has to individuals with disabilities.
For many having a disability just means that they have to go about their daily business in a slightly different way to others, for many they have lived with their disability for the majority of their live and are more than apt at self managing the differences that may come along with it e.g. taking more time to move from place to place then the average person or wearing hearing aids or glasses. For others the biggest problem that they face as disabled people is in accessing places or equipment within society as they may not have been designed or built in order to accommodate a range of different access needs.
For those who have recently acquired a disability or diagnosis of disability or who have a disability where the limitations develop or change one of the biggest impacts on their lives is how to manage their disability. Learning how to adapt in order to reduce the negative impact that disability can have on them and the way that they go about their day to day lives can be a challenge and is one that can take a long time to fully accept and understand.