What Does It Mean to Be Disabled



When you are disabled and confined to a wheelchair, you will find that your disability has very little to do with weak muscles, and a lot to do with the world we find ourselves in, and the society which is almost always ready to exclude people who are in this condition.

Let’s look at what it really means to be disabled.

Let’s Define It

The word “disabilities” is actually an umbrella term, which is used to cover all activity limitations, impairments and restrictions to participation. An impairment is considered to be a problem in how the body functions or in how it is structured.

A limitation in activity is when an individual has a difficulty executing an action, and a restriction in participation is when a person finds it difficult to be involved in life situations.

A disability is therefore not a health problem but a reflection of the interaction of an individual’s body and the society they live in.

Its History

Although the world probably had the means and the know how to to help people with disabilities for a very long time, the first wheelchairs only came to be invented around 600 BC.

Disabilities and other frowned upon diseases were thought to be caused by demons, curses or paranormal activities. A disability was accepted for what it is, as a natural occurrence, no matter how unnatural it might have seemed.

However, this viewpoint started to change in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, when medicine came to the fore, and the body was seen as something which could be studied and manipulated.

Another freaky thing that occurred in those days, was that disabled people were used in freaky shows by businessmen, to entertain the people.

The next big change came in the UK in the 1970’s, when activists started to challenge the way society treated disabled people.

In this way the attention of society was shifted towards artificially imposed obstacles. It was not the disabled that needed fixing but society that limits a person with a disability.

What Is the Reality?

The reality can be summed up in this way. Let’s say you have a meeting, and you’re disabled. You are confined to a wheelchair.

To attend a business meeting you might have a problem. You might not be able to access the place where the meeting takes place.

It might be that the stairs are the problem, which is an all-too-common problem for many wheelchair users.Thus, in order to have a meeting, you would have to make sure that the place of meeting is accessible for the wheelchair.

Why Is It That Way?

Because the building wherein this meeting was supposed to take place was designed and built by people. It was designed in such a way that it did not take into consideration the disabled human being.

Was the meeting supposed to take place under a tree there would have been no problem at all. But because it was built by humans it is.

So, What is Dsability Then?

Disability can thus also be defined as an artificial product of the inaccessible world (made inaccessible by mankind) themselves.

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