RESOURCES

130517 Community Eye Health Journal disability-and-diversity


130517 Community Eye Health Journal disability-and-diversity

Ways of thinking about and responding to disability have radically changed in recent decades. Traditionally, disability was regarded in terms of sin, karma, or divine punishment. More recently, disability was made a medical issue and defined in terms of shortcomings of body or mind, which had to be prevented or cured at
all costs. In the late 20th century, people with disabilities worldwide became more organised and created national and international disabled people’s organisations. They successfully demanded that disability be seen as a matter of equal opportunities and human rights, a shift which has now been described in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Disabled activists and academics make a distinction between impairment – in the individual’s functioning – and disability, understood as the relationship between a person with impairment and their society. By failing to consider the needs and wants of people with impairments, and failing to make the world more accessible for them, society is in fact responsible for disabling people who have impairments. This is known as the social
model of disability. Disability is shaped by physical barriers (e.g. medicine labels which are too small
for people with visual impairment to read, or stairs to the hospital entrance which prevent people using wheelchairs from going in) and social barriers, including negative attitudes and cultural messages, and discrimination in employment.

This special issue of The Community Eye Health Journal is focussed on disability and diversity. It covers a range of interesting articles that are relevant for anybody working in community eye health specifically,
as well as in the health sector generally. It is jam-packed full of articles that will give you information to boost your confidence. In particular, the section on practical tips for eye care workers on how to engage with people with different impairments, and the poster on guiding someone who is blind, are simple and straightforward.