Today on World Disability Day, we aren’t aiming to inspire our readers by sharing some outstanding stories of disabled people who aren’t “normal” but as we like to call them “special”. You must have noticed that people often put them on a pedestal by using superlatives such as “inspiring”, “superhumans”, “specially-abled” and the like. The suggestion by Narendra Modi that disabled people should be called “divyang” (divine body) doesn’t make things easier.
Media on the other hand likes to highlight the phenomenon of “inspiring masses” with success stories of disabled people.
Such gestures can be justified to a certain extent. People with Disabilities have their own share of physical and mental struggles to cope up with. Their stories can definitely prove as a source of inspiration for the ones who have similar dreams. Besides, appreciating their struggle could help them to grow higher and break all the stereotypes and barriers.
For mainstream media, it’s certain that highlighting the accomplishment of a disabled person would not only spread optimism but also helps to create a more open and inclusive society.
Having said that, the approach of the media and society towards disabled people is very disheartening. Their disability proves a factor to either get close sympathy or extreme glorification for their achievement.
This approach can be wrong and disturbing for various reasons:
Sympathy and Ableism
This is the root cause of all the praise one receives for their disability. Media and society have made Sympathy and Ableism a very generic feeling towards people with disabilities. Such a feeling not only discriminates them but also plays a huge role in social prejudice. It also gives rise to a mentality where people tend to think able-bodied individuals are superior. Thus, even if you see a person with a disability traveling in a local train or having his or her lunch at a local bar, people tend to get over-whelm and hype it as an act of bravery.
In the real world, people with disabilities have not only broke all the stereotypes and barriers against them but also made a significant impact on all walks of life. Whether it is sports, science, or any individual or group field, people with disabilities have proven nothing is impossible and they are not any different from others. So in such a case where sympathy and ableism are taking over people’s mindset, it can be very embarrassing for a person who has a strong attitude and confident mindset but gets that extra comfort only because society thinks he or she is not capable enough.
Excessive- Glorification of Disability
It’s certainly a great achievement for a person with a disability to overcome his or her disability and get wherever they want to be in their life. But, it’s certainly not the only factor to highlight their achievement. Yes, they are inspiring and motivating but that’s not it. Apart from overcoming his or her disability, a Person with Disabilities may have achieved and conquered a lot which also deserves equal recognition.
There are other obstacles such as caste discrimination, gender business, religion, or any other grounds. Society and media tend to forget that disability is not the only thing that a disabled person has to go through. These obstacles are equally challenging to overcome.
Appreciation of the end
Society and the media will only highlight the fact that the ‘despite disability he or she achieved their dreams’ but they forget that appreciation without knowing the journey is baseless. You must have seen in the news where a media house will only highlight the ‘point of achievement’. Such as making it to the national sports team or cracking any government exam. But most of the time the story behind the achievements gets left out or if you say ignored.
In the end, on this World Disability Day, the only thing we would like to add here is that don’t let Disability be the only thing that inspires you. Knowing the journey and appreciating every bit of it is equally important.