When people, even when meaning well,
project their ideas of disability on to a disabled person, they reduce them to
a selection of stereotypes based on the things presumed about the disabled
person. Disability is not binary. Most of us fall somewhere into the area of
gray. Speaking personally, I am more
disabled by the society I live in; then I am my disabilities, which brings us
to the following topic.
people first is not
something I created. There are several put
people first movements. Regardless of the campaign, the name is attached
to; there is a common thread. Everyone is to remember always to put people first. You may be
wondering how this is related to those with disabilities. First, let’s get a
good understanding of what put people
Never identify a disabled person based
on that one characteristic. For example,wrong– that autistic man.Right - that man that has autism. Or,wrong
- my Downs
syndrome friend. Right – my friend that has Downs syndrome.This change in word arrangement might be
challenging to put into practice in the beginning but will become second nature
after you do it enough. Just bear in mind that when you are speaking of a
disabled person, they always come
before their disability. I can
see where this might appear as a behavior modification that can go on the
back burner for another day. However, to those of us living with
disabilities, especially if chronic pain is involved, this is no trivial
pursuit. By identifying our disability first, you marginalize us, and it can be
quite offensive. In the beginning, it can be embarrassing. Still, after living
with it day after day and year after year, it becomes ugly because we exist as
individuals not exist as disabled.
By putting people first, you
are saying that we exist as a person, but also have this characteristic.
Speaking personally, most of the time, my disabilities make me quite angry and
make me want to stay inside and not deal with people. I have challenging days
physically and psychologically; however, God, the Author of all Life, gave me a
calling that provides me with the physical and mental strength to carry on.
Never identify a disabled person based on their disability. Remember always to Put People First.
Types of Disabilities
Disability – A hidden or invisible disability is one that is not
immediately viewable to an onlooker (Source: lawkm.com). These disabilities are usually physical, mental, or
neurological and limit the individual’s activities due to an impairment of
senses or movements. This type of disability requires
adjustments. Unfortunately, people
aren’t necessarily aware of that sometimes.
Health – A mental health
disability is any mental or psychological disorder, such as intellectual disability, organic brain
syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities,
that substantially limits one or more major life activities (Source:supportservices.jobcorps.gov). With this disability,
interpretation of situations may not always be accurate.
Disability – “Sensorydisabilities” can
involve any of the five senses. Still, for educational purposes, it generally
refers to a disability-related
to hearing, vision, or both hearing and vision (Source: doe.virginia.gov). This
disability affects communication and understanding.
Disability – A visible disability is one that another can see based on the disabled person's
appearance and or behavior (Source:
experts 123.com). This
disability highlights presumed assumptions, thus spotlighting the attitudes of
Faith Through Weakness
I celebrate with author Bonnie Baker
Armistead when she says in her article Kingdom
Impact Through Weakness And Disability, What a life! What an adventure! What a
gracious God we serve! For many
of us, we found out understanding to the point of accepting our blessing of
disability takes some time. We will discuss in greater detail what that means
in another section. Still, the reason it is brought to attention here is to
reinforce how being uneducated about people with disabilities can and does
severely impact us.
Just as we all must work on our faith with God
continually, so it is with the disabled. Only the disabled have the advantage
of experiencing blessings that are not available to abled people. We gain a
strengthening of our faith through our weakness. Imagine the power of being
able to gain strength through weakness. What a life! What an adventure! What a
gracious God we serve!
More Than our Body and Disability
Disabilities affect individuals
differently. Never make assumptions. Don’t ignore the difference to appear
fair-minded or unbiased. If you are not sure of boundaries when interacting
with a disabled person – just ask politely.
It is just that easy. Regardless of the disability, we exist, we are
more than our body and disability, and we have a special blessing and calling
Put People First
is it important to put people first?
memory, what are the types of disabilities? Briefly explain each one.
you are not sure how to interact with a disabled person, what is the best way
you project your ideas of disability on to a disabled person? Why or why not?