Sunday, 17 October 2010


Over the last few weeks I have met with a lot of organisations that represent those with disabilities. From those who represent deaf children and want to ensure that they are getting the support that they need at school through to the national body representing sufferers of MS. It is really important for me to be on top of the issues that face local residents who have one disability or another.

But what struck me was that when we had discussed some of the direct clinical issues that related to the condition, each organisation had a similar story to tell about their members. For those who are not totally incapacitated, people with disabilities want to be part of mainstream society. If they can they want to be valued for what they can contribute, not always looked at as someone defined by their disability.

A wonderful lady with MS and who is still working wants to be known as a senior health professional not a lady with a stick who finds walking extremely difficult. The young girl who is 90% deaf wants to be seen as a young person with real prospects and a desire to go to university – not someone who is deaf and needs our sympathy.

We need to re-examine our approach to the many in our community who have chronic diseases or disabilities from birth. They can be as much contributors to society as anyone in our community – and in several areas of life they might be able to achieve even more because of their condition. Active lives, being known as contributing to society and the community, and being valued as part of the mainstream in life is all crucial for those with disabilities. So I urge you to start to look at those with disabilities as people who matter and contribute first and only then recognise that they might not be able to hear, they may be blind or they may be suffering from a chronic disease.

As someone with mild epilepsy, I hope to be regarded first and foremost as making a contribution to our community before any reference to any condition I might have.

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