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What is disability anyway?

Updated: Sep 7, 2021

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says this about disability:

Disability results from the interaction between individuals with a health condition such as cerebral palsy, down syndrome and depression as well as personal and environmental factors including negative attitudes, inaccessible transportation and public buildings, and limited social support.

What does this mean? In our words it means a person's health condition - or 'impairment - is not their disability. What 'disables' people living with things like Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Vision or Hearing impairments is:

  1. How they let their condition impact their lives.

  2. How the people they meet, the places they go and community they live in impact their lives.

Thinking about it like this means we don't have to fix people living with disability. We don't have to treat them like they are 'special' in some way. We don't have to feel sorry for them.

We just need to change how we interact with them, encourage them not to let their 'condition' or 'impairment' stop them doing what they want to do, and change what needs to be changed in the environment around them so they can live a great life.

That all sounds pretty simple...

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