Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Kelly Cartwright of Australia wins the gold in the long jump (photo: xinhuanet)

The 2012 Paralympics is currently being held in London from 29 August to 9 September. Watching some of the events on Youtube left me completely in awe of these superhuman Olympians. They truly embody the London Olympics slogan "Inspire a Generation" for who would not be inspired by their achievements?

I am reminded of Dr William Tan, 55. I first met him in 2010 and was so impressed that I wrote about him in an earlier post. A Singapore neurosurgeon, Dr Tan won international acclaim when he became the first man to participate in the 2005 Antarctica Marathon in a wheelchair. Since then he has gone on to complete several marathons across the world. Despite being diagnosed with stage 4 leukemia in April 2009, he continued to be actively involved in charity events and inspiring others through his motivation talks.

I have friends who have disabilities. While they may not be in the same league as the paralympians, they are nonetheless quietly showing us that they are just as capable of doing whatever we 'normal' folks can do - if we just change our negative perception of them and remove barriers that prevent their full integration into our society.

Two days ago, I attended a Disability Equality Training (DET) workshop conducted by Peter Tan, a certified DET trainer. The session was an eye-opener for me. I learned, for example, that there is a distinction between saying 'the disabled' and 'people with disabilities', between 'wheelchair-bound' and 'wheelchair users'. The take-home message was that we should actively work towards removing environmental and attitudinal barriers that hamper the full participation of people with disabilities in society.

Peter shared with us a 2007 award-winning video "Talk". It gave us an insight into what it is like in a society where the majority are people with disabilities who lead full lives and the minority non-disabled people are to be pitied. A reversal of roles.

Do watch the video. It could change forever how we perceive people with disabilities. Hopefully, it will motivate us to initiate 'reasonable accommodation' for people with disabilities at our workplace and in our communities.

Thank you, Peter, for doing an excellent job of correcting our myopic view of people with disabilities. Click here to visit Peter's blog and find out more about DET.

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