People with disabilities often have to deal with many misconceptions in society that interfere with their equal rights to live independently in their own communities. Myths are considered attitudinal barriers that are harder to overcome than architectural barriers. Many negative views can also lead to discrimination that is prohibited by law. There are several different types of attitudes that can be formed about people with disabilities.

Some examples of these attitudes are inferiority, pity, ignorance, stereotyping and fear. Psychologists have also observed a so-called spread effect, which occurs when people view a person’s disabilities as adversely affecting their other senses, abilities or personality traits. The way to neutralize the spread effect is to focus on the person’s abilities rather than their disability.

There are several ways we as a society can help break down attitudinal barriers such as being open minded, courteous, encouraging and taking the time to learn about disability issues. Another way to help out is to speak up and reach out to make a difference. More importantly, help provide opportunities for people with disabilities ranging from social to employment situations. I feel I am doing my part of breaking down barriers through sharing my experiences through my columns and public speaking. My purpose is to shine light on disability issues with the lifelong goal of helping and inspiring people.

By: M. Afzal Uddin (Editor)

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