There is a need for greater awareness in the general community of disability related issues of all varieties. It is this need that is driving us to attempt to start up a series of e-card style posts filled with both obvious and unknown tit-bits of information relating to the daily lives and experiences of the disabled community. The hope is that this different mode of awareness-raising helps increase the reach of our efforts.
Elements we would very much like to focus on are the lesser known facts that may not necessarily be a part of a person’s disabilities knowledge repertoire. The purpose here is twofold; an increase in awareness and understanding is of course always desired, and it opens the reader’s eyes to the fact that these are issues that tie into an entire spectrum of lived experiences beyond what they may have considered. Furthermore, such knowledge will also help readers to improve their approach to interpersonal communication in a manner that bridges the perceived gap in interactions between themselves and “the disabled person”. Of course, this finer focus will not detract from informing readers of the larger elements they should be aware of in their own behaviour and interaction.
Some points seem obvious enough in relation to the choices people make; however, in practice these seem to be notably absent. Thus it is also important to inform the public that behaviour such as distracting a guide-dog “at work”; or parking on the sidewalk and blocking the path of wheelchairs is highly inconsiderate. Nevertheless, as is inherent in any form of attempt at awareness raising, we must believe that people have the capacity for empathy and change, and that breaking through the wall of ignorance by providing relevant information and rational argument would at the very least be a small step towards facilitating this.
The rationale for an e-card inspired format is that, as many may know, most people scrolling through social media feeds do not take the time to read thick passages of information, well-meaning as may be. However, facts provided in a bold, concise and stimulating (perhaps even humorous) format are more likely to draw attention – and catching attention is the vital first step. The posts, in line with the values of Dis-Maties, will take a broad, inclusive approach that represents all disabilities and the information provided fairly.
To achieve this priority of fairness, member of Dis-Maties are asked to provide, from their own experiences, the information they feel is important for readers to know. And where there are no current members to provide insight into a particular type of disability, extra effort is placed into research and verification, as well as to ensure that a similar standard of personalised, less obvious and eye opening facts is provided. A hope that lies deep in the idea of these posts is that, given the platform we will present them on, readers will share our posts. This would truly help actualize the goal of reaching a broader public, and improving the awareness of others; not merely within Stellenbosch, but also throughout extended social networks.
One never knows how a project will truly work out until it has been implemented, but we hope that readers will support the endeavour. The success of awareness-raising is by nature dependent on the reception by the audience, but we have every confidence in your wonderful support. Look out for the posts!
– Jacques Nel
Jacques Nel will reserve the right to his artwork, but grants fair use with respect to noncommercial use of the artwork for education purposes.