A matter of perception

If you think people with disabilities are already enjoying all the rights that they deserve, you think it wrong.

The truth is, until today, there still exists stigmas and prejudices among the whole society towards people with disabilities. Those have long created a thick wall between both sides – the society and people with disabilities – which prevents them from understanding and lifting each other up, as a matter of perception.

In a country like Vietnam, where the effect of Agent Orange/Dioxin from the war still remains, leaving many families to suffer from birth deformities and other serious health issues, people with disabilities account for 7.8% of the whole population, equivalent to 7 million people (source: CAND). Given that number, few Vietnamese people have the awareness of the visibility as well as the difficulties of people with disabilities and, therefore, not enough efforts have been made by policy-makers and each individual towards an inclusive society for people with disabilities. In other words, the wrong thinking – “it’s one in a million” that has marginalized people with disabilities.

At the same time, many do not grasp the idea in which we use the noun phrase “people with disabilities” instead of “disabled people” – that people with disabilities are capable of doing anything and they just do things a bit differently. People with disabilities are facing a lot of stereotypes and discrimination which negatively affect their chance of getting proper education, finding good jobs or even their rights to take part in the society. Not to mention, women with disabilities have to deal with double-discrimination since being women in Vietnamese society which have been heavily influenced by Confucianism and “fixed gender roles” is already a matter to be addressed.

And while it is the awareness that determines one’s actions and behaviors, the perception and attitudes are what underlies most of the issues of people with disabilities. Therefore, if this can be addressed, more actions would be made, especially among the policy-makers in order to create a more inclusive society with no one left behind.

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