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It's time to ignore the disabled.

Ok, it's what you might call a "clickbait" headline but its oh, so much more than that because I truly believe in the premise of the statement.


..but let me explain.


The focus of society since we became "caring" has been to "lift the disabled up to our level" through the provision of charitable giving and services. Uh-huh, that's a thing and a reflection of our attitude towards how we have historically seen people we have considered less fortunate than ourselves and the methods we have employed to address the challenge ie charity. But sadly the very word charity may be creating a barrier to progress:


"A system of giving money, food or help free to those who are in need"

Doesn't sound too inclusive, does it?


In fact, without going into the difference between the Medical Model and the Social Model of Disability (I've included a link below if you don't know the difference) it really does seem to underline that there is an air of a "person lesser than me about it" and by providing services rather than long term routes out of "need" surely all we do is maintain the status quo?


Of course, looking at the "disabled" as those in need of charity is more yesterday than you might be aware and it's easy to demonstrate this but taking a quick glance around us. We have all seen, and I hope, have become more aware, of the people who are breaking through the ceilings we have created for them proving that not only are they capable of but in so many cases superior to the "able" they have pitched themselves against. I'm thinking of people like comedians, Alex Brooker and Lee Ridley, Actors, Liz Carr (big up to Silent Witness productions) and Warwick Davis, TV personalities, Ade Adepitan and Sophie Morgan or lesser-known to the general public but equally impressive Caroline Casey founder of the truly groundbreaking Valuable 500 or Paul Smyth OBE of Barclays. (Let's face it if you are going for a job and you see their names on the interview list you had better be worried about your chances of being offered the position.)


So, what's new and why should I prompt you to "ignore the disabled"?


By continuing to think we need to lift the disabled up to our position we ignore the fact that the only reason they are there is because WE, the "able" have designed into the world around us. Everything we have touched we have built to enable us and disable those whose needs differ. In this process, we have kept others in a position where they have required us to look down to see them and to provide "charity" to help lift them up.

It is with this in mind that I propose we stop looking at the "disabled" as if they are different and start thinking of ourselves as what we are, "The Enabled".


By turning the label on its head might we be prompted to reaccess what it means to have been privileged for so long? Might it give us a chance to realise that it is this privilege that has allowed us to be more mobile, efficient and less anxious about travel, socialisation and employment? I certainly hope so, as I very much feel that the time for the provision of services or financial support for the "needy" must come to an end and the dawn of a new age of equality must get underway.


An exercise for you. Next time you look at a group of people label them internally and remember the label by the ones who are the most enabled. You'll be amazed at how this changes your attitude toward the discrimination we have built up around us which has inadvertently prevented us from evolving our mindset toward what the word "disabled" truly means.


Originally published by Gavin Neate, Socially aware Entrepreneur and CEO at Neatebox Ltd

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