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Disability can be a physical limitation but nothing can limit a person’s skills and talents

Disability can be a physical limitation but nothing can limit a person's skills and talents

“Without imperfection I and you would not exist” — (Stephen Hawking)

Nothing can hide the talent and skills of a person. It is a known fact that talented and skilful people, even disabled, always shine like stars. However, the term ‘disabled’ has more social connotations than the medical ones as it creates a demarcation line between who is able and who is not. There is no denying the fact that most of the ‘normal and able’ people are disabled in terms of skills and talents. They lack guts to do something extraordinary despite the fact that they are physically fit and hale and hearty. But, there are some special people who are considered ‘disabled’ but they have more potential and capabilities than their normal fellows. World-famous physicist, cosmologist and author Stephen Hawking is the most pertinent example in this context. Thus, it would be apt to say that disability can be a physical limitation, but it cannot limit a person’s skills and talents.

It seems pertinent here to cite the example of Stephen Hawking as he is the person who, in spite of being physically disabled, became the most renowned and revered scientist all over the world, and his thoughts and ideas revolutionized the world of science. Exhorting the disabled individuals, Hawking says, “My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you from doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit, as well as physically.”

The Oxford Dictionary defines disability as ‘a physical or mental condition that means you cannot use a part of your body completely or easily, or that you cannot learn easily’. But this definition is confined to mere physicality of a person; if we dissect the word ‘disabled’, other clear manifestations come to the fore. The literal meaning of disabled is ‘not able to work’. And, if we go by this meaning, it would not be an exaggeration if we say that everyone is disabled, in one way or another. Every person is fit for a particular job; for instance, an engineer is suitable for building bridges, roads and dams but he cannot perform a surgery as it is the work of a doctor, and so is the case with a doctor.

Disability can also be referred to a lack of spirit, enthusiasm and passion in doing any task. In the words of Aimee Mullins: “I think that everyone has something about themselves that they feel is their weakness … their ‘disability’. And I’m certain we all have one, because I think of a disability as being anything which undermines our belief and confidence in our own abilities.”

Moreover, there are two basic models which explain and help us in understanding disability: medical model and social model. According to former, a disability is a problem of the person directly caused by disease, trauma or other health conditions which, therefore, requires sustained medical care in the form of treatment by professional medics. In the medical model, management of disability is aimed at “cure,” or the individual’s adjustment and behavioural change that would lead to an “almost-cured” state. In this model, care is viewed as the main issue, while in the realm of policy, “the principal response is that of modifying or reforming healthcare policy” (Medical Model Disability)”. From the social model perspective, “disability” is a socially-created problem and a matter of full integration of individuals into society. In this model, disability is not an attribute of an individual; rather it’s a complex collection of conditions created by the social environment. Management of the problem requires social action and it is the collective responsibility of society to create an environment where limitations for disabled people are minimal. Disability is both cultural and ideological in creation. According to the social model, equal access for someone with a disability is a human rights concern.

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About Bashir Sagar

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The writer is a student of Political Science at University of Peshawar. He can be reached at: bashirsagar742@yahoo.com

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