We all know someone with a disability and if not, we are easily able to define what it means to have a disability and identify those that have one. It’s clear that they are different from those of us who are free of disabilities and consider ourselves “normal”. In “Looking under disabilities: The Anthropology of Impairment”, Kris Castner explores what to do when we encounter those with disabilities and how respect should be shown to them in the same way we’d show it someone else without disabilities.
Although, we are aware of those who have disabilities, that doesn’t mean we are aware of how to interact with them, and treat them as close to an equal as the circumstances allow.
Our culture allows us to be educated, so that we can “eradicate much of the social stigma (or perhaps ignorance)” surrounding those with disabilities.
In my own interactions with the disabled and impaired during the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign this weekend the quote by Castner “unless we acknowledge a difference, move on from it, and dig deeper, we will never fully get to know the person past what we can gather about them on the outside” resonated with me. I meet a gentleman (whose name I regrettably forgot) that said to me “I don’t care if I have Down syndrome; deep down I’m still a human being.” He was clearly on the lower end of the spectrum, but for him to say that made me realize how much equality meant to him.