Disability is one of the social issues that most members of the society continue to encounter. There are people who suffer from various disabilities and are not able to lead a standard life like other individuals. Consequently, these people require a lot of support to conduct their daily activities. It is vital to note that one’s disability has a direct impact on his/her identity. The society tends to perceive people according to the manner in which they lead their lives. In fact, others suffer stigmatization. Nevertheless, it is the duty of the community to ensure the well-being of the less privileged people. This paper explores how a person’s disability affects his/her social identity and daily routine. It also seeks to explain how public places can make individuals with disability part of the community.
Disability has an unconstructive impact on one’s self-esteem. It affects the person’s social identity and daily routine and interactions with others. An example is a defective assumption that these individuals always need help. Further, they suffer stigmatization when offensive references such as handicapped, crippled, epileptic, disabled, physically challenged or any term of such sort are used to refer to them. Some societies equate disability to deviance. In a study, it was found that deviance, underprivileged families and disability are congruent with one another among poor families in the United States ((Mutua, 2010). Some people with disabilities try to compensate for their state by overworking to show they are as good as others. It demonstrates the attempt to fight off the perceived impairment. Further, such people take offence when they are surpassed and addressed through their aids, sign interpreter or another person. In other words, people think they cannot communicate. These attitudes affect confidence and relationship that people with disabilities forge with other members of the society.
It has necessitated legislation to ensure equality, and respect for persons of this group. Institutions are required to adopt a universal development principle. It will make all their facilities accessible to all people, including the disabled. Institutions like parks and buildings must have all the essential infrastructures satisfying the needs of all people. Such road and rail networks make life easier for people with disabilities. For example, the reality of the adoption of disability-friendly environment and infrastructure is quite sharp. According to United Spinal Association (2015), the law requires that institutions make deliberate changes to their policies to accommodate devices that make the places accessible and comfortable to people with disabilities.
My visit to City Park proved that compliance with this law is in earnest. The park has earmarked and clearly demarcated some facilities exclusively for people with disabilities. For example, there are 16 parking spaces for the disabled that are near the gate. There are also special lavatory facilities made comfortable for the disable. There are 16 toilets to be used by this group of persons. Further, the toilets have Braille signs legibly marked for the blind users. A special provision has been made in the park to facilitate movement of the distinct group within the park. They can easily travel throughout the park as there are wide paths in the park. The park is wheelchair-friendly. The disable visitors who use wheelchairs are given free wheelchairs for use within the facility at admissions. Further, the entrance is free of charge for this group of people. It forms part of the institution’s community social responsibility strategy that has also served to be a promotional tactic. The park has made a fast track gate for disabled people. Consequently, they do not have to wait in line with other users. The waiting line is long and this provision cushions the disable people a great deal.
These management decisions have been put to comply with the legislation requiring provision of support to this group. The government wants persons with disabilities to be fully integrated into the society. While the compliance measures adopted by the City Park were canvassed, the institution has been unreasonably slow in adopting the necessary changes to accommodate this group of people. For example, the bathrooms that have been made for this group have no emergency buttons. Besides, people confined to a wheelchair have special needs. The facility has not provided ramps for such people, thus, putting them in an awkward position as it is a necessity. There is over-emphasis on people, who are not able to walk and who are confined to a wheelchair, to chagrin of people with other forms of disability.
The park has only made toilet signs in Braille and ignored other important signposts that would help the blind visiting the facility. Moreover, there is a big seating problem within the park; the facility is not blind/deaf friendly. There are no sign speaking employees stationed to help the blind/deaf visiting the park, even among the tour guides who take the visitors around. A Braille/sign speaking interpreter is much more important than a free wheelchair given at admissions. The sided nature or over emphasis on helping the disable persons who cannot walk at the expense of other people is not right. Besides, the safety of a person with disability is at stake in this facility. When visiting the park, I noted that there were no enough safety measures for blind people. It is not safe enough for such people, where they can fall into water or fountains. Some of the water facilities within the park, natural or artificially made, have slippery shores that require one to be quite careful.
There should be security personnel to prevent such events. It should not only be to the benefit of the disable persons, but also to children who can also be victims of such carelessness. In this case, there are not a lot of security guards on the lookout near zones with ponds, fountains and miniature artificial lakes. Any leading park makes adequate arrangements to attract children. It is done by providing various things that entertain kids. However, there are no outdoor toys specific for wheelchair-bound children in this park. Some of these inadequacies need to be bridged to make the facility compliant. It is important to adopt the principle of a universal design in improving the facility and making it accessible to all people, including those with disabilities. Consequently, it is imperative to note that the facility has done quite well in supporting people confined to a wheelchair. It should just include ramps for these people to help them further.
The park also needs to employ a tour guide with knowledge of sign language to help and guide the deaf/ blind. As a safety measure, more security guards need to be deployed to prevent various accidents, especially near ponds and water fountains. For blind/deaf visitors, necessary plans should be put in place. For example, all the essential posts and writings should have a complementary translation into Braille. Braille leaflets and other materials should also be provided to entrants, showing areas that one must be accompanied. Further, some of the safety and assistance plans should be designed to help the blind and the deaf. There should be readers on standby for visually impaired individuals.
There can also be a plan for audio recordings in strategic places to help people, who are not able to read. Assistive listening devices can also be suggested as means of helping those with listening problems and must be talked to aloud. Telephone handset amplifiers can also be adopted to help hearing impaired visitors. In the same breath, telephones well-matched with telecommunication devices for deaf persons are needed. Note takers and an interpreter can also be brought on board to help in special cases.
Protection of people with disabilities has been a pertinent issue of concern in most nations of the world. It’s a concept embodied in the modern aspiration of a libertarian and democratic society. Every country is moving towards a free society. There has been a section of the society which disparages this constituency and refers to such people derogatorily like disable people, crippled people, physically challenged, handicapped and retarded among other terms. Persons with disabilities want to be respected and to have their lives integrated into the society. It should be cascaded into both public and private institutions. Such public facilities as parks need not to be seen as discriminative. The measures noted above can help accord respect and necessary help to people with disabilities. The city park has made good strides towards providing standard support to persons with disabilities. However, the park is still far away from achieving the standards because of the shortfalls noted above. Necessary improvements should be made to accommodate persons with various forms of disability. The government has also created the ADA National Network, which provides information dissemination, guidance and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act. It has served to enhance people`s awareness and attitude towards people with disabilities.