19.4  Myths and facts about disability

In the community, many people do not know much about disability and have a misunderstanding of what it is like to live with a disability. Some common myths about disability are given below in Box 19.2, together with the actual facts so that you can help to challenge these myths.

Box 19.2  Common myths about disability

Myth 1: People with disabilities are brave and courageous.

  • Fact: Adjusting to impairment requires adapting to particular circumstances and lifestyle, not bravery and courage.

Myth 2: Wheelchair use is confining; people who use wheelchairs are ‘wheelchair-bound’.

  • Fact: A wheelchair, like a bicycle or an automobile, is a personal mobility assistive device that enables someone to move around.

Myth 3: All persons with hearing disabilities can read lips.

  • Fact: Lip-reading skills vary among people and are never entirely reliable.

Myth 4: People who are blind acquire a ‘sixth sense’.

  • Fact: Although most people who are blind develop their remaining senses more fully, they do not have a ‘sixth sense’.

Myth 5: Most people with disabilities cannot have sexual relationships.

  • Fact: Anyone can have a sexual relationship by adapting the sexual activity. People with disabilities can have children naturally or through adoption. People with disabilities, like other people, are sexual beings.

As a healthworker, you can help remove barriers by encouraging participation of people with disabilities in your community through:

  • using accessible sites for meetings and events
  • advocating for a barrier-free environment
  • speaking up when negative words or phrases are used about persons with disabilities
  • accepting persons with disabilities as individuals with the same needs, feelings and rights as yourself.

19.3.2  Communication with people who have impairments

19.5  Situation of disability in Ethiopia