Celebrating Knowledge: How can we help Persons with Disabilities? (Part 1)

The focus of my thesis for my BA Mass Communication at the Ken Gordon School of Journalism and Public Relations (KGSOJACS) at COSTAATT (College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago) was ‘The Accessibility of the Internet for persons living with disabilities in Trinidad and Tobago.’
This is a topic I opted to examine because it is a topic I am very passionate about. More so it is a topic that touched my heart then and a topic which continues to do so today.
I have been creating several means of helping persons with disabilities and I have faced several challenges along the way. Having seeing a recent post on Facebook stating, “Being differently abled and young is very challenging,” and this was later followed by a post stating, “We want to feel accepted like everyone else!”

My response to this is as follows:
Having met with several persons living with disabilities in Trinidad and Tobago I know a vast majority of them who face several challenges day in and day out. They do not deserve be unfairly treated or like they are unequal in any way. My modus operandi is to treat others as you would like to be treated and I believe that change comes from a conscious decision to want to change.
Of the people I worked with to get the findings of my thesis I found a group of highly educated and qualified persons living with disabilities. They didn’t have the best start or the easy life but they all have one thing in common: They refuse to give up!
To those who have embraced the entrepreneurial spirit I salute them for making that commitment.

The questions which we need to ask is how can each one of us help someone living with a disability? How can we make information more accessible to them? How can we do our part to enrich their quality of life? Here are 4 pointers:

  1.  Leave ALL Handicapped Parking Spots for persons who are Handicapped. They are called Handicapped Parking Spots for a reason.
  2. Elevators should be available in all buildings that have 2 floors or more. Imagine my horror on hearing that one of the guys who helped me with the findings of my thesis telling me of the unfortunate experience he endured for a job interview. He went for a job interview in a building that no elevators and his interview was being held on the 4th floor. Can you imagine what he went through? To help you understand it better I will shed some light on his dilemma. He lives with Charcot-Marie Tooth Disease (CMT), he has a lot of difficulty with his mobility and with the use of his hands but uses assistive technology to get by while he can as his condition has been deteriorating. Can you imagine the difficulty he faced in getting up the stairs? Can you imagine the embarrassment he faced on another occasion when he fell and people laughed at him? Surely we can all agree that none of this is right! For more information on CMT please visit: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/172056.php
  3.  Refrain from giving directions to someone who cannot see if you are unsure about the directions. It is really unfortunate that some people do this and create bigger problems as they person who cannot see may get lost and a predicament like can also result in placing that person in danger. The reality is that I have heard of too many incidents like this happening. Thankfully, many are relying on WAZE and Google Maps and both apps are proving to be quite helpful.
  4.  Use Word Documents as far as possible to post online memes, menus, flyers and advertisements or any document with text for that matter. Or just type them out if you choose not to provide them in word. Photographs cannot be read by any of the assistive technologies and the information provided within them cannot be communicated to someone who is visually impaired unless you are there to read it out to them. A popular screen reader most of them use is JAWS (Job Access with Speech) and these are some ways you can make photographs more accessible to them as visually impaired persons will not be able to understand what they contain:
  • Upload text as Word Documents
  • Provide captions which describe what the picture contains or what it is about

In closing I hope that this information is of help and put to good use! Let us continue to be good and let us continue to do good! A little goes a long way; it costs us nothing to be human! Change begins with a decision to change and making the effort to do so!
As mentioned above this is my first post regarding this topic and I look forward to sharing more information with you soon on how we can be of help to persons with disabilities.

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