What makes life frustrating for disabled people

For many people, integrating disabled people unfortunately still means letting them "participate". Far too little has become established in our awareness that disabled people can also provide valuable services for the general public and are an integral part of society. It is high time to establish this "inclusive" approach in people's consciousness.

The idea of ​​inclusion is not in itself new. He assumes that our society consists of disabled and non-disabled people and that every person contributes to society as part of it. The possibilities for such a contribution are very individual, but the approach itself should lead to promoting respectful interaction with all people.

Almost everyone who works with disabled people is of the opinion that they themselves have benefited from this work, from the acquaintances and friendships that result. I can only explain why a large part of society renounces this perspective with "fear of being different".

I became aware of what this "otherness" can mean when I spoke to a blind man and he told me in a conversational tone during the conversation that he actually doesn't want to be any different than he is. He is well educated, the owner of a company that deals with aids for the blind and visually impaired, married and has many friends. His world is definitely different from what we know and can imagine, but he is content with his world.

An essential prerequisite for this attitude is undoubtedly training. Often talents are not recognized and encouraged in other areas due to disabilities. It goes without saying that one of the most important aspects is to receive training that corresponds to one's intellectual abilities if we want to build a society in which every person can make a contribution according to their abilities. Disabled people are often dependent on the support of their families and it sometimes takes considerable efforts to overcome the hurdles in order to get a highly qualified education as a disabled person.

If you keep in mind how frustrating this struggle must be for a person, just to get an education that is a matter of course for every other equally intelligent but not disabled person, I can well imagine why people become bitter and frustrated and finally give up.

We, as a society or system, then forced a person to be dependent on outside help for life. We have refused this person to take his life into his own hands and to develop himself according to his abilities. We forced him to live on grants because we denied him the opportunity to create the conditions to earn his own living.

It is precisely these support and services, in particular the associated costs, that are perceived by the public and lead to the image of the "disabled as a cost factor" in our society.

Of course, not every disabled person can be directly integrated into the work process. The possibilities are very individual. Nevertheless, I am convinced that a good education for all people also leads to a reduction in the amount of care required.

Training means that people can occupy themselves and develop interests. It enables, regardless of the physical possibilities, what is perceived as meaningful occupation that leads to a feeling of self-worth and mutual respect. Training as a natural right also promotes personal development. Those who only have to almost force their way through to the next school level, or to be admitted to the next course, will with high probability maintain this behavior in their later life. This sometimes leads to problems and misunderstandings between disabled and non-disabled employees in companies and workplaces.

Of course, training costs money and it is sometimes not easy to give disabled people such training. In addition, it is difficult to calculate the pure cost savings that result from this and therefore an exact cost-benefit calculation based on amounts of money is not possible. Personally, I believe that in the long run, society as a whole would benefit in any case. Not least through other thoughts and perspectives, which, as has been shown in the past, often lead to alternative approaches to solving problems and to developments that were previously "unthinkable". Science and research in particular could benefit greatly from this.

Above all, however, an entire group of our society would be relieved of a great burden if access to training were made a matter of course for everyone. You could prevent a lot of suffering and frustration if the awareness is established that the mental abilities are absolutely independent of physical disabilities and that training makes sense even if there are mental disabilities.

Anton F. Neuber (Aug. 2006)