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Persons with Disabilities: Helpless or Heroes?

Alokita is a young woman who lives in Patna in the state of Bihar, India. She is a polio-survivor and has undergone polio-corrective surgeries. Alokita is sharing her thoughts on why society simply label persons with disabilities as either helpless or heroes; and it should not.

“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare”

Sure, the modern lifestyle is so hectic that we don’t have the time to pause and appreciate the things around us. But, the irony of the situation is that almost all of us are moving with our own bundles of prejudices. We see a person and make our judgment without even knowing the person.

Interestingly, the prejudices become starker in the case of Persons with Disabilities because they are ‘different’ from the crowd. Persons with Disabilities are judged at the very first sight and are broadly kept in two categories – Helpless and Heroic, depending on the person judging them.

Yes! You read it right… Persons with Disabilities are categorized as helpless or heroic not based on their deeds but on the prejudice of the other person.

So, why a person with a disability is considered helpless or heroic?

As written earlier, this has nothing to do with persons with disabilities but with the thought process of the society. There are persons in the society who see persons with disabilities as a burden and someone who always need support from others. Persons with this type of prejudice, without understanding the extent or effect of disability on a person, label them as helpless.

On the other hand, there are people who will brand all the persons with disabilities as ‘heroes’. For them, persons with disabilities are doing a commendable job just by surviving. It is this kind of prejudice that turns the simple life of persons with disabilities into what is now called the inspiration porn. And, the interesting thing here is that the ‘inspiration porn’ is not only enjoyed by the society but also by the person whose life is being presented as such.

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Wait!

Before you judge those prejudiced persons (so-called the normal ones) as vices, for judging PwDs, let me tell you they are not. The prejudices, be it labeling helpless or hero, is the result of the collective thought process of the society and not the individuals. Most of the individuals will leave their respective bundles of prejudices if they are exposed to reality.

A major chunk of persons with disabilities lives a sort of invisible life within the four walls of their house. They are not seen very frequently in public places and hence a lot of individuals never get a chance to interact and understand any person with a disability on a personal level. Even when some persons with a disability visit a public place they are more likely to be dependent on someone else due to the inaccessible public infrastructure. Seeing persons with disabilities struggling in such places further strengthen the prejudice of them being helpless. They fail to fathom that it is not the disability but the inaccessibility of the infrastructure that is making the person with the disability more dependent.

Prejudices about persons with disabilities is an issue that breaks the society as persons with disabilities versus the normal ones. The most basic solution to the issue is interaction. Increased interaction between the two groups will help individuals to understand that just like any human being, persons with disabilities too are unique in their own way and all of them cannot be simply labeled just as helpless or heroic.

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"Persons with Disabilities: Helpless or Heroes?." Wecapable.com. Web. October 28, 2021. <https://wecapable.com/persons-with-disabilities-helpless-or-heroes/>

Wecapable.com, "Persons with Disabilities: Helpless or Heroes?." Accessed October 28, 2021. https://wecapable.com/persons-with-disabilities-helpless-or-heroes/

"Persons with Disabilities: Helpless or Heroes?." (n.d.). Wecapable.com. Retrieved October 28, 2021 from https://wecapable.com/persons-with-disabilities-helpless-or-heroes/

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