Focus on abilities and not disability

 

Sir, – Today is the International Day for Persons with Disabilities. I am one of four self-advocates with an intellectual disability on the board of directors of Inclusion Ireland. I feel I have a responsibility to speak up for people who are not able or who are shy about speaking up. Today, we should celebrate and focus on abilities and not disability.

People with disabilities have rights just like everybody else. Covid had an impact on everybody but it was even harder on people with disabilities. Day services closed down, people missed their routine. They felt lonely and isolated. People found it difficult to use technology like Zoom. Services didn’t put enough supports in place for most people quickly enough. During 2020, Inclusion Ireland and TU Dublin did a research project on the experiences of people with intellectual disabilities during the pandemic. The research was led by people with intellectual disabilities, including myself.

Restrictions because of Covid are a new thing for many but not for people with disabilities, many of us do not have choices about where we live, if we work, or make decisions for ourselves. Some people told us in our research that they liked having no routine, they didn’t want to be in services anymore. The important thing is that people have choices.

My wish is that people can live their own lives, be part of the community, go to work, be active and be part of society. People need the supports to live in their local areas. Some people need a small amount of support, and others a lot of support. Actually, everyone in the world needs support, so why is it such a big deal? – Yours, etc,

TOMÁS MURPHY,

Inclusion Ireland,

Dublin 1.