From the Disability Concerns Inclusion Handbook, here are some common stereotypes faced by people with disabilities. 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. Please feel free to share these with your congregation in a newsletter, from the pulpit, or some other way.
Myth 1: People with disabilities are brave and courageous.
Fact: Adjusting to a disability requires adapting to a lifestyle, not bravery and courage.
Myth 2: Wheelchair use is confining; people who use wheelchairs are “wheelchair-bound.”
Fact: A wheelchair, like a bicycle or an automobile, is a personal assistive device that enables someone to get around.
Myth 3: All persons with hearing disabilities can read lips, and people who are blind acquire a “sixth sense.”
Fact: Lip-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.”
Myth 4: People with disabilities are more comfortable with “their own kind.”
Fact: In the past, grouping people with disabilities in separate schools and institutions reinforced this misconception. Today, many people with disabilities take advantage of new opportunities to join mainstream society.
Myth 5: Non-disabled people are obligated to “take care of” people with disabilities.
Fact: Anyone may offer assistance, but most people with disabilities prefer to be responsible for themselves.
Myth 6: Curious children should never ask people about their disabilities.
Fact: Many children have a natural, uninhibited curiosity and may ask questions that some adults consider embarrassing. But scolding curious children may make them think having a disability is “wrong” or “bad.” Most people with disabilities won’t mind answering a child’s question.
Myth 7: The lives of people with disabilities are totally different than the lives of people without disabilities.
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.
Myth 8: Most people with disabilities cannot have sexual relationships.
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, like other people, are sexual beings.