Marking International Day of People with Disability (3 December), Endeavour Foundation Chief Executive Andrew Donne said that “valuing difference remains a major stumbling block”, arguing that a monumental societal shift is needed if people with a disability are to be genuinely valued and embraced by the Australian community.
“As a society we talk about inclusion, but typically in the sense of legal obligation or physical access. In truth, inclusion is driven by how we think and act, day-to-day, and it’s something that every single one of us has both the power and the responsibility to change,” Mr Donne said.
“The National Disability Insurance Scheme signifies a major change, moving people with a disability from the position of ‘beneficiary’ to that of a customer with freedom, choice and a voice. That change in the balance of power is crucial, but it’s just one part of the puzzle.
“While people continue to be defined by one dimension of their being, then we’re clearly still fixated on difference.
“A person with a disability is simply a person. A person with ambitions and goals, feelings, thoughts and talents like anyone else. Seeing the disability rather than the ability short-changes people and short-changes society.”
The disability services provider has said that there are lots of easy, but important, things you can do to drive forward change, including:
- Focusing on your similarities, rather than your differences. You might find you share the same interests.
- Avoiding negative labels and language around disability – words like ‘crazy’ and ‘retarded’ are hurtful and unnecessary.
- Taking the time to learn about disability and share your understanding with others, especially if you hear something that is untrue.
- Trying to be sensitive to the needs of others. If someone makes a request or acts in a way that seems strange to you, consider the fact that it could be disability-related and deserving of understanding rather than judgment.
- Listening attentively when talking with people who have difficulty speaking. Wait for them to finish and never pretend to understand.
- Giving people enough time to understand or saying it in another way.
- Focusing attention on the person, not anyone offering them support or assistance.
- Identifying yourself and others when you meet with someone with a disability – the same courtesies apply.
If you find communicating with people with a disability a bit daunting, visit our blog and get some tips.
To find out more about Endeavour Foundation, and begin discovering all that people with an intellectual disability are and can be, visit www.endeavour.com.au.