"A wheelchair does not make a wheelchair, but a ladder"

Photo: Anatoly Zhdanov / Businessman | buy a photo

The International Day for the Protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated on May 5 since 1992: for the first time it was celebrated by the publics of seventeen European countries, who tried to draw attention to the problem of actual discrimination of people with disabilities. On May 3, 2012, Russia signed the law on the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which establishes the inadmissibility of their discrimination. Discrimination can be expressed not only in restricting the accessibility of public spaces or denial of employment, but in a mass prejudice against people with disabilities – it is also called eublism. Many simply do not know how to behave with people with disabilities in order not to violate their rights, personal borders and human dignity. At the request of Kommersant, experts from the regional public organization of the disabled, Perspektiva, Olga Kotova and Sergei Prushinsky, named several simple rules, the observance of which would help eliminate at least some of the barriers created around people with disabilities.

Sergey Prushinsky, head of the web-school of the NGO “Perspective”: The problem that arises in a person with a disability with you (not with you, but with him with you) lies in perception. A person with a disability always has to prove that he is not worse than a healthy person. In our country, a disabled person is perceived as helpless, sick and feeble-minded, avoided when there are external defects that distort the facial features or the shape of the hands and feet.

By maintaining a healthy relationship, you are guided by the generally accepted rules of etiquette. But if disability is perceived as a violation of health, then etiquette in communication involves a sick-list. In a conversation with a sick person, you can not talk about football. The maximum is about the TV program, because there is a TV in the hospital room. You will be stroked on the head, praise how good you look, they will treat you with candy.

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We must understand that there is a disability. Yes, this is a problem. But what exactly is its cause? A disabled person is not a “person with disabilities”. In Russian, “opportunity” is perceived as a right. If I am a person with disabilities, this implies that I can not do something. And this is not about this, but about the limitations created by my environment, physical obstacles and prejudiced attitudes of other people. If this does not happen, my opportunities will be the same as for any other. In that case, how do I differ from them? Many people have physical, mental, intellectual disabilities, but they do not make a person disabled until these violations interact with barriers. I am disabled by a staircase, not a stroller. A stroller is my way of moving. A person with a blind person who is disabled makes a lack of sound at the traffic lights. There is no sound – he is forced to seek help from others, thereby becoming addicted to them. Hence the question: how to communicate with a person with a disability, without limiting his rights and remaining correct?

Suggest a handshake

Olga Kotova, the head of sports department of the “Perspective” NGO: You greet each other. Stretch out your hand to shake. Offer your hand standard, just like everyone else. The person will orient himself, will tell you how best. Those who use the prosthesis will insist on shaking hands, someone will avoid it, someone will substitute their amputated shoulder or offer to shake the left arm or stump.

Introduce yourself and others, describe the situation

SP: When meeting a person with visual impairment, it is important to accompany your actions with your voice, introduce yourself, call someone close to you. When you come somewhere together, sketch the situation quickly. Leave it for a while – warn about it. Do not think that blind people have perfect hearing. It is a myth. A person will not hear your steps, and turn to you into emptiness, and you will not be here any more. Our blind friend Pavel was dragged by the hand from the escalator dozens of times and shoved him into the wrong metro train. More often they are transferred across the road, where they perfectly orient themselves. He thoughtlessly want to help, but they are knocked off the route and are forgiven on the sidewalk. And he walked ten meters away from the familiar route and is forced to seek help to go back to the metro entrance known to him.

Do not help if you do not ask

OK: Last year in St. Petersburg, we walked through the stadium with the captain of the St. Petersburg national rugby team in wheelchairs. Rugby on wheelchairs are played by people with cervical injuries – they often do not feel neither hands nor feet and can not hold the body on their own. We go out, see a little squeak. And I, knowing that he does not keep the case, neatly, very slowly, help him to cross this threshold. We see an adult man, thinks that it’s very hard for me and, without asking anything, decides to help. He had no idea how the wheelchair was arranged, did not realize that I, too, was a person with a disability and could lose my balance. He pushed me away, I fell. My colleague fell headlong from the carriage, hitting the floor.

SP: Today, many modern strollers have a folding view, because it is convenient. The armrests are unfastened as quickly as the wheels and front frames. Never rush to help people with disabilities if you are not asked to do so. And if asked, first find out how you can help.

Do not touch personal things

OK: A wheelchair, a cane, a guide dog is all an integral part of a person’s personal space, the continuation of his body. If I consider the cane to be my accessory, like a bag, you will not shift it without asking permission?

Use familiar words and phrases without stressing the limitations

SP: People with disabilities, by ear and by sight, use the most common words: “hear”, “see,” “see.” To say to the blind person “feel it” is to spit a person in the soul.

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OK: Two years ago I worked in Pittsburgh in a camp for blind children. We met the children at the entrance, distributed camp uniforms and accompanied them to the rooms. All the entrances and exits, the doors between the floors, the elevators, the door of the room – everything was opened with cards, and it was not immediately clear which side to insert them. I did special notches, approached the child and explained how to use this card correctly. Nearby there is a parent who begins to resent: “Why do you say "look"? He does not see! “, The mother of a blind child tells me.

SP: I often open the door to a room and say: “come here.” Every time I answer: “guys, I came to you by car, and from room to room I will pass.” Walking is also in the wheelchair. It’s just my way of walking.

To address directly, but not to the accompanying person

SP: When talking to a person with a disability, contact him directly. Not to the accompanying person or to someone who stands nearby. If a person without visible signs of disability is standing next to an invalid, this does not necessarily mean that he is accompanying him. If I’m on a business trip with a bipedal colleague, it does not matter if it’s a strong man or a fragile girl, they are not addressed to me at the front desk, but to them. And they talk to them while making out my documents.

Stay at one level of the eye

OK: For a conversation it’s more convenient to arrange so that your eyes are on the same level. In conversation with the deaf, the person should be open and lit. It should be remembered that not everyone knows how to read on the lips. Someone owns this skill, some do not. But you must provide such an opportunity.

Do not speak loudly without the need

SP: The standard error in dealing with a person who does not hear well is to start talking very loudly. Such a person, most likely, already uses a hearing aid, which amplifies the sound sufficiently. The volume will not help as well as the clarity of the pronunciation and articulation can help, but it will also discomfort you, the interlocutor, and passing people.

Do not interrupt

SP: In a dialogue with a person who has difficulties in speaking, you probably understand his phrases from the first words, but he started to speak – and stumbled. If he does not stop, then he wants to finish himself, and you must listen to him to the end. Not interrupting, not finishing and not thinking out.

Ask if you doubt

OK: Not all people with disabilities are ready to talk about their disability. It is important to bear this in mind. If you are in doubt, if something is bothering you, and you do not know what to do, what to say, do – ask the question. And you will be honestly answered how to apply, how to imagine a person, whether it is convenient or not. Not sure about anything – ask directly.

Recorded by Denis Kozlov

According to the Federal State Statistics Service, as of January 1, 2018 12.1 million people of all disability groups are registered in Russia (8.2% of the population of Russia). Of these, men – 5.2 million people, women – 6.9 million. In five years, the number of disabled people in Russia decreased by 7.6% – from 13.1 million people.

The greatest number of disabled people is included in the second group of disability – 5.6 million people (from 2013 their number decreased by 17.7%), to the third group of disability – 4.4 million people (an increase of 7.3% over the past five years). The owners of the most difficult, first group of disability are 1.47 million people (decreased by 2%). Disabled children in Russia have registered 0.7 million people.

In the academic year 2017/18 6,900 students with disabilities were enrolled in higher education programs, for programs of secondary vocational education – 8,3 thousand disabled. For comparison: before that, an average of 5,900 disabled people have entered universities each year since 2008, and 5,300 disabled people in secondary specialized educational institutions. The number of disabled people of all categories is 1.6 million people.

According to the Pension Fund, as of January 1, 2018 the average size of the prescribed pensions for disabled persons registered with the Pension Fund is 13,300 rubles. per month, including 17.3 thousand rubles for the disabled of the first group, 13.7 thousand rubles for the second group, 11.5 thousand rubles for the third group, 13,000 rubles for children with disabilities.

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