Technically, April is Limb Loss Awareness Month. However the awesome non-profit organization Lucky Fin Project is right in emphasizing that it should be Limb DIFFERENCE Awareness month in oder to be more inclusive.
In case you’re new to my blog or simply didn’t knew it, but I was born without my right hand. Funny enough, this month was the first time in a very long time that I was faced with the usual stigma attached to the term ‘disability’. Every disability is different, so the struggles a person with a disabilty has to face are, despite popular believe, always unique. However there are a few recurring issues when having a disability.
People will always focus on what you can’t do rather than what you can
Earlier this week, I had to get for an application a certificate from my GP stating that I’m fine and that I won’t be a burden. It wasn’t a hassle to go to my GP and ask for such a certificate. This case is, when taken in isolation, not the problem. The actual problem is that I experience this recurring stigma of a disabled person being a burden on a weekly basis. Sometimes, people say that I’m a very competitive person or that I’m trying too often to give 110%. My achievements will always be compared to those of able-bodied people. Also, despite various disability quota at work, I’m also more likely not to get a job due to my disability because of the stigma attached to the term ‘disability’.
The Term ‘Disability’ does not Determine Your Actual Abilities
I’m missing a right hand, therefore, I’m registered by the German Government as a disabled person. However, it is my believe that the term ‘disability’ has several layers of meanings which are used interchangeable or unknowingly. The first layer would be a legal classification. As said, according to the disability regulations of the German Government, I’m considered to be eligible for a disability id & classification. The second layer or meaning is based on the traditional definition of the term.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘disability’ as such:
disability, n. /ˌdɪsəˈbɪlᵻti/ , U.S. /ˌdɪsəˈbɪlᵻdi/
1 Lack of ability (to discharge any office or function); inability, incapacity; weakness.
2. A physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities; (as a mass noun) the fact or state of having such a condition.
Most people use the term disability to make generalizations. These generalizations usually include the believe that every disabled person needs medication or assistance in daily life. Also, it is also a common stereotype that disabled people have trouble finding a job and live a financially independent life. There are many other stereotypes out there, but most can be bioled down to the imagined or actual physical limitation of every disabled person. No distinction is made between the type of disability or individual physical ability.
Sure, I can’t climb a tree or mountan, but there are many able-bodied people out there who can’t do it either. However, no one ever bothers to focus on that. Also, there are cases of amputees that climb mountains with the help of specially made prosthetic arms or legs:
- Jamie Andrew is a Scotish quadruple amputee and in 2004, he and three other disabled mountaineers I made an all-disabled ascent of Kilimajaro (5895m).
- Amputee mountaneer Arunima Sinha set a record by climbing the Mount Everest,
For more information on Limb Difference, please visit the Lucky Fin Project. This is not only an informative non-profit organisation, but a community for people across the globe with a limb difference and family members of a person with a limb difference.
I know these misconceptions and stereotypes will not change overnight, but every time we highlight difference and inclusion will be a step towards the right direction.