This year of the Covid-19 pandemic, has been one of constant and enormous learning for all of us. And it made me think of what we can learn from persons with disabilities.
Without warning, we’ve been plunged daily into learning how to adjust to a new way of being: How to live in isolation, how to do so many things differently, whilst gathering daily information on the virus prevalence and survival rates, and ways to protect ourselves.
This learning is exactly what happens when an individual sustains an unexpected disability.
From childhood, we all have certain expectations of how our lives will evolve – education, a dream career, financial stability, marriage and a family, as well as other wonderful gains and experiences. Nowhere in this ‘ideal life’ is there any room for human diversity.
A certain percentage of able-bodied people will be denied some or all of these expectations. And then there are those who have to deal with being denied access to their expectations by association with an impairment.
There’s no preparation for an impairment, and how that person will be disabled by society. Unlike a reality that is dealt with from childhood, adult impairment can happen in a split second. A sporting injury, or motor vehicle accident can lead to paralysis. Genetic or other medical conditions also cause any number of impairments.
The shock of this change is when people need a caring friend like you. Someone who will support a body like WCAPD to fight for their right to continue living, by accommodation of their disability. The world must be improved for persons with a disability by providing tertiary education facilities, wheelchair access, improved public transport options, and the embrace of remote work opportunities.
Just as Covid-19 has taught us, persons with impairments can teach us much – in innovative and creative ways to cope, and to solve problems, to think out of the box, and to keep ‘living life’. Persons with disabilities also have tremendous skills, just waiting for society to tap into that knowledge.
Let’s keep learning from one another.