It may take a village to raise a child but it is going to take the global village, our worldwide community to ensure people with disabilities are cared for and their needs addressed so that they can thrive integrated into society.
The meaning of the proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is simply that it takes more than one person to teach a child the lessons of life. The benefits of many varied carers for a person with a disability is the same as the benefit of the village to a growing child, bringing a wealth and variety of learning.
A wealth and variety of services have to be accessible for the integration of people with disabilities into society. The infrastructure of society; public transport, airports, schools and hospitals, shops and recreational facilities have to be accessible. Service provision has to be addressed by individuals, local council, state, federal and the greater global community.
My husband and I recently had lunch in town, at a popular Italian. The queue starts half an hour before the restaurant doors open, imagine our hunger as the waitress sat us down and took our anticipated order. It is in this environment that a wheelchair user would be sidelined as only half the restaurant is accessible, the other half is up a steep flight of steps. There are probably only one or two tables that are appropriate as the traffic of diners and waiters have to pass behind the wheelchair, so what is the etiquette here? Can a wheelchair user book a table? Does a wheelchair user just have to wait for the two appropriate tables? Is it an open and shut case of move on to the next restaurant or come back tomorrow an hour before opening time? It takes the community to decide the etiquette as I would allow wheelchair users to book but that could be argued as discrimination against non wheelchair users that are asked to queue. Society as a whole has to understand the issues for people with disabilities so they can make informed choices as town planners, road, pavement and ramp designers, also those in the construction and building industry. Recreational providers need to address fixed poolside hoists as standard equipment. Theaters and sports facilities need to address access and designated parking nearby. Restaurant owners need to address their in-house policy towards wheelchair accessible tables and allow booking. My list is too long to share in a blog but you get the gist. It takes parents, teachers, restaurant managers, councils, politicians along with corporations, industries and organizations to assist disabled individuals ability to thrive in a considerate community, thrive in a society in which they can access and fully interact.
The world is changing, evolving, so let’s make sure that society and our global leaders make the right choices; legislate for access, make transit choices, make funding choices that facilitate the inclusion of people with disabilities. When life is accessible, the disabled and their carers can work, play sport, travel, book a table for dinner with greater ease – that has to be embraced globally.