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By: Andrea Davis, Student Advocacy Coordinator
On December 3rd, WHO (World Health Organization) recognizes the international day of persons with disabilities. It is a day to reflect and bring awareness to people living with disabilities across the world while simultaneously promoting understanding of issues and barriers that people face.
Barriers have roots in myths and misconceptions. We can’t escape it; words matter.
Pat Pardo, Manager of Accessibility Services at Mount Royal says that “many myths based on disability are connected to the language we use to describe disabilities and are anchored in biomedically-based language”. Pat suggests using a “person-first language protocol” to create a more inclusive perspective. In practical terms, this means that instead of using ‘disabled’, ‘crippled with’, or ‘lame’ use instead: ‘person with a disability’, ‘person who has…’ , or ‘person with limited mobility’. How we refer to people with disabilities is important.
Individuals with invisible disabilities also encounter barriers. This happens for people with epilepsy, hemophilia, mental health, or learning disabilities. For example, a person with anxiety may experience a ‘freezing feeling’ which stops him or her from completing a set task or activity. This person may need alternative accommodations and supports to ‘even the playing field’. Each of us is a person with strengths and areas of growth and development. When we enhance the strengths of people and put the ‘person’ first, everyone wins.
For more information on existing services, creating events, and building community visit the SAMRU Peer Support Center (PSC) in Wyckham House >> http://www.samru.ca/supportservices/psc/