Revisiting disability as a strength

On this year’s World Braille Day, I would like to take the time to ponder the issues surrounding disability inclusion. How can we ensure that individuals with disabilities feel included in our society, or more importantly, that they feel the way we structure our society is not tailor-made for neurotypical and physically able individuals? How can we view disability as a point of wealth and diversity, rather than a symbol of absence or incompleteness?

I recently interviewed Dr. LaMondre Pough, CEO of BillionStrong, an international network connecting disabled individuals. LaMondre’s life philosophy is truly inspirational, and his joy for life contagious. The fact that many of the challenges which he faced over the years were constructed by our society makes his reappraisal of spinal muscular atrophy as a source of strength all the more admirable. According to LaMondre: “Life is worth living and when you discover purpose, when you realize that you have a purpose, when you have a reason to take the next breath, that next breath should be a joyous breath.”

The goal, then, should be to make our society more inclusive, more purpose-producing. This is what Louis Braille’s invention managed to achieve. It was an important step in the blind and visually impaired people’s quest for equality. What makes it even more impressive is the fact that Braille was only 15-years-old when he published the first iteration of the six-dot system of domino-like “cells”, later dubbed ‘Braille code’.

How can we continue in that tradition? The Perkins School for the Blind is one organization that is honoring and preserving Braille’s legacy. It is the first school of this kind ever established in the United States, and they uphold the belief that every child can learn, if only we make this learning accessible.

“We help families, teachers, schools and governments see what’s possible, and we share what we’ve learned over the course of our nearly 200-year history. We change attitudes and unleash possibility. And in doing so, we take one step closer to realizing a shared vision where no child is left behind”, their mission statement says.

I believe that organizations of this type play an integral part in creating a more inclusive, caring society. However, individual acts of kindness can be just as vital. We should teach our children that those with disabilities are deserving of the same respect as their peers. We should not stay silent if we see someone being discriminated against. We should react if we witness someone being treated unfairly. Our involvement may seem small, or insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but this is misleading. Every little act of kindness matters.

Let’s celebrate this World Braille Day by reaching out to our friends or acquaintances who may have disabilities, and empower their quest to transform society’s perception of their weaknesses as markers of strength. Let’s support the organizations that are making a real difference and raise awareness amongst our peers that disability is a point of diversity, not a disadvantage. As a new year begins, let’s resolve ourselves to champion equality in all its forms, to truly democratize Wholistic Wellbeing.

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Sunny Gurpreet Singh

#Entrepreneur and #philanthropist democratizing #wellbeing for the world. Founder of Roundglass and Edifecs. #WholisticWellbeing #LivingwithSunny