Thursday January 6, 2011
Give the disabled a hand
By ANTHONY THANASAYAN
Do your bit for the disabled and elderly.
IT may be almost a week into the new year but it is never too late to work on our resolutions for 2011.
Here’s a list to help you along, especially if you want to make a difference in the lives of the disabled and the elderly.
Some of them may take a little time and effort on our part. Others, however, are quite simple to accomplish; they call for consideration and kindness to our fellowmen. Here are some things that we can do:
In the home:
> Be a friend to a disabled or elderly person. Most people may not realise it but it isn’t easy to find friends when you have a handicapping condition. People who are not disabled may avoid persons with disabilities for a number of reasons. Some of them do so for reasons of awkwardness – they do not know what to say for fear of hurting the person with some insensitive remarks. Others just fear disabilities. And others still, do not like to be reminded that they themselves may become handicapped one day through illness, an accident or old age. It is important to remember that people with disabilities are just like any other person. Many disabled people, especially those living alone, would greatly benefit from having a friend.
> Offer to collect their medication or do their marketing when you do yours. Take an elderly person in a wheelchair for a stroll in the nearest park. If the park is not wheelchair-friendly, write a complaint letter to the local council and then follow up on it until the problem is fixed. You can also offer to help bathe a bedridden patient, especially if the caregiver is a woman and finds it a gargantuan task to get her loved one out of the bed. Other areas where you can help: help walk the dog, feed the cat or clean the aquarium.
> “Never park in a disabled car park if you are able-bodied unless you want to also take the disabled driver’s handicapping condition with you,” says a local council notice at a parking spot for the disabled.
> When you see a person in a wheelchair or on crutches trying to cross the road, stop your car. Try doing that some time and see how good it feels, especially when they give you a big smile of thanks afterwards.
> If you are in a packed lift in a shopping complex and notice a disabled person in a wheelchair waiting outside, offer him or her your space. Use the stairs instead. This actually happens often in countries outside of Malaysia – and frequently by people from such countries when they visit ours.
In government outfits:
> Can we please go back to the time when counters were set up for the disabled and elderly? They were a big help then but now even hospitals and buildings which used to have such counters, have done away with them.
> Can we have sign language interpretation for more programmes on RTM instead of only the prime-time news? And when are the other television stations going to follow RTM’s fine example and start making their news accessible to the Deaf?
> Let us not forget the blind. They need talking lifts (to tell them which floor they are at), equal access to automated bank teller machines, and tactile flooring (those yellow tiles with grooves that we see in some places). Let’s not forget that these need to be built inside the buildings as well as outside. It is most frustrating when you manage to find your way to a particular building, and then have no clue as to where the information centre, toilets or lifts are.
Have a great year ahead!