How do our fears and perceptions affect how we view others? Can’t answer that? I can…Society tends to view disabled people as inferior, regardless of the physical condition. They are not inferior. They have a unique world view because of how they are seen, and they can offer us a lot, if we accept what it is they present to us.
A few years ago I worked on a class project during which I had to pretend I was mentally handicapped and go into different businesses to see who would assist. Only 1 person in 10 assisted. The rest were intimidated by the speech impediment I presented and age level at which I was asking questions (adolescent). I went to fast food places, Beall’s, JC Penney, and Wal~Mart. The staff who were the most patient and willing to assist were in Wal~Mart, Barnes and Noble and at Starbucks! The hardest part to do was pretending to cry in the mall because I couldn’t find my “guardian”. Most walked by, but one person walked with me to security, where they called the rest of my study group…Code name for them was “Red Williams”. It sure changed my perspective on how society views others who are differently-abled to do that project.
At five of those places, I was required to use the electric cart to shop and ask for help. Again, Wal~Mart, JC Penney and Barnes and Noble came through! Other places of business were downgraded by 10 points for the following behaviors, walking off and saying “I’ll be right back.” and then no one would come back after 5 minutes, refusing to call for help when I made it “obvious” that I was lost, etc…
Differently-abled should be the term we use to describe them. Maybe as a society, we will become more inclusive if we actually change our view on the subject. I know that this project taught me much about how people think when it comes to the subject. If you don’t believe me, try what I did and see how you are treated. You will come away from it with a whole new perspective on how things SHOULD be as opposed to how they really ARE.