International campaign challenges perceptions


What do you see when you cross paths with a person living with disability? Do you see the person or the disability?

Those questions are being asked today (Thursday 3 November) on International Day of People with Disability, an initiative that hopes to challenge the way communities think about disability.

Senior Project Officer at Life Without Barriers Emily Reaper says the day is important for creating awareness and challenging perceptions.

“I live with a disability myself, and I think it is important to continue to pull the awareness back to people with disability, I think sometimes it can be a little bit left behind,” she says.

“We need to reiterate to people that people living with disability are important, we have to continue to shine a light, to push society to change their opinions, or what they currently view disability to look like.”

Ms Reaper says the best way to challenge your own perception is to ask yourself what disability means to you.

“The community can continue to challenge their ideas and preconceptions of what disability looks like and means to them,” she says.

“[It can help] to ensure we are constantly challenging this subconscious bias people have.

“Ask: ‘What does it look like to me and is that really what disability means?’

“I don’t think there is one definition of what a disability is, [lots of people] think it is the idea of having something that makes you less than but it is just something that makes you different or unique.”

Ms Reaper adds that it is important to speak up if people are being discriminatory.

“Don’t be afraid to speak up and talk about what you’re seeing, it’s not always visible to people, so don’t be afraid to question it,” she says.