Like most in the disabled community I have not stopped shielding throughout this pandemic – but amongst the unforgettable tragedies there have been some valuable lessons that hopefully won’t be lost or forgotten.
It’s important to remember that the 13.9 million disabled people living in the UK have been adapting their lives for many years now, already faced with restrictions, health anxieties and challenges. It’s just a part of everyday life. Amongst all the challenges we face I think we are very good at finding the positives and learning to adapt very quickly.
Most of the disabled people I know are also the happiest people I know, because as a group we’re incredibly good at seeing the positives in situations and focusing on the things that give us joy. Yes, we might have a disability/impairment that presents certain challenges, but we overcome them, adapt, and make the most of life.
In fact you could go as far as saying a great deal can be learnt from the Disabled Community.
Lessons we can take
It turns out we are capable of becoming more accessible; it just needed a pandemic for businesses to rethink. Just like that, within weeks most businesses had found ways to be more remote. For years disabled people have been requesting for more inclusion and accessibility when it comes to working from home with the most common answer being it’s not feasible.
Now I’m not suggesting that every disabled person should work from home I don’t want to presume that that would suit everybody, but having the option to be flexible could open up employment and allow people to manage their disability/impairment plus the potential benefit for other people.
Technology has been a way of staying connected and reconnecting, unable to socialise in the traditional sense. Lockdown has given us weekly quizzes, movie nights, video calls and virtual family get-togethers that might have normally been a monthly or yearly thing before. We have also been able to access GP surgeries and hospital appointments virtually without leaving the comfort of our homes.
Even theatres, museums and art galleries have been streaming meaning that if it wasn’t accessible before you can now access them, and at your own pace. We can’t forget the access this pandemic has given so many people.
We really are isolation pros – I may joke that I am thankful for all the times I was grounded as a child (thanks mum!) and being disabled has given me the experience to get me through ‘Shielding’. I think people now realise staying at home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!
Yet for some disabled people being confined to the house or even one room is everyday life, this isn’t everyone of course, but it’s too important to just dismiss and move on.
Having a home that is accessible has been my lifeline as I’m sure it has for most people – so please be mindful not to compare experiences when so many have not left their homes in over 300 days!
Most people have never had to think twice about whether they can access exactly what they need in the shops: until now. All of a sudden having to figure out when to shop to avoid crowds and queues, so they can get what is needed and protect their health. But for many of us in the disabled community, this is a common consideration.
What lessons can you take away from the last year or what have you realised about yourself?? Feel free to leave me a comment.
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