Fact-checking Common Disability Myths

Like others, people with disabilities fight stereotypes. The barriers people with disabilities face begin with people’s attitudes—attitudes often rooted in misinformation and misunderstandings about what it’s like to live with a disability. Here’s the truth about some common disability myths you may have heard.

DISABILITY MYTH:
People with disabilities are brave and courageous.
DISABILITY FACT:
People with disabilities may be brave and courageous, just as anyone else might be. However, adjusting to a disability is more a matter of adapting to a lifestyle than it is about a “brave attitude.”
DISABILITY MYTH:
People who use wheelchairs are “confined” or “wheelchair bound.”
DISABILITY FACT:
A wheelchair, like a bicycle or an automobile, is a personal assistive device that enables someone to get around. People get freedom of movement because of wheelchairs.
DISABILITY MYTH:
Everyone with a hearing impairment can read lips, and people who are blind acquire a “sixth sense.”
DISABILITY FACT:
Lip-reading or speech-reading skills vary among people who use them and are never entirely reliable. Although most people who are blind develop their remaining senses more fully, they do not have a “sixth sense.”
DISABILITY MYTH:
People with disabilities are more comfortable with “their own kind.”
DISABILITY FACT:
This comment usually reinforces prejudices and does not help people with disabilities. In reality, people with and without disabilities benefit from proximity to each other and relationships or friendships with each other.
DISABILITY MYTH:
Non-disabled people are obligated to “take care of” people with disabilities.
DISABILITY FACT:
While it is our Christian calling to show kindness and compassion, we must always do so in submission to the person we are serving, never assuming they need our help, but offering and receiving assistance humbly.
DISABILITY MYTH:
The lives of people with disabilities are totally different from the lives of people without disabilities.
DISABILITY FACT:
People with disabilities go to school, get married, work, have families, do laundry, grocery shop, laugh, cry, pay taxes, get angry, have prejudices, vote, plan, and dream like everyone else.
DISABILITY MYTH:
Most people with disabilities cannot have sexual relationships.
DISABILITY FACT:
Anyone can have a sexual relationship by adapting the sexual activity. People with disabilities can have children naturally or through adoption. People with disabilities are sexual beings like anyone else.
Everybody Belongs, Serving Together is a collaboration of RCA and CRCNA Disability Concerns, Christian Horizons, and Elim Christian Services.

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