Why We Should Talk About People With (Dis)Abilities More Often

Why, not?

Seriously, though, why can’t we talk about them more often? It’s sad to know a fraction of our population lacks the knowledge about what disability truly means.Robert Lewis Down Syndrome1

I love this feature article I wrote months ago. Read the full story here.

According to most online (medical) dictionaries, disability means- A physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, activities, and more.(Source: www.webmd.com)

Most often than not, we associate the term “disability” to physical and mental impairment. While it is valid, there’s more than meets the eye. Here are my top 3 reasons why we should speak up about PWDs.

3. They teach us unconditional love and ingenuity

Have you ever attended community events for disabled people? Have you tried interacting with them? If not, I suggest doing so. Because you will see how these people we call “disabled” can accept everyone wholeheartedly.

Game changer

Just like #Gellibean. She hugs and says hi to EVERYONE! :)

These people don’t know the word “ugly.” To them, everyone is beautiful.

In a succinct manner, no pretentions. No stereotyping, just pure love and understanding.

2. Remind us to be respectful at all times

Earlier this year, we were invited to attend the premiere showing of the first-ever reality show that highlighted people with Down Syndrome.


Just like how any event usually starts: we pray, sing the national anthem, and acknowledge the presence of everyone, especially the guests.

When everyone was about to sing the national anthem, Clarence, a Best Buddies volunteer, reminded everyone to put our right hand and place it on our heart, while singing the National Anthem.

He was on point. He made sure everyone respects the flag.

For me, simple things matter. Sometimes, we become too comfortable or too smart for our own good. Sometimes, we need to be reminded.

1. To spread awareness

Sadly, there’s still a few of us, who cannot determine if someone is “disabled” or not. The truth is everyone is disabled. It was Scott Hamilton who said, “the only disability in life is a bad attitude.” As confirmed by National Council on Disability Affairs, an individual is considered disable if:

(a). Disabled Persons are those suffering from restriction of different abilities, as a result of a mental, physical or sensory impairment, to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being;

(b). Impairment is any loss, diminution or aberration of psychological, physiological, or anatomical structure of function;

(c). Disability       shall mean (1) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more psychological, physiological or anatomical function of an individual or activities of such individual; (2) a record of such an impairment; or (3) being regarded as having such an impairment;

(d). Handicap       refers to a disadvantage for a given individual resulting from an impairment or a disability, that limits or prevents the functions or activity, that is considered normal given the age and sex of the individual;

(e). Rehabilitation       is an integrated approach to physical, social, cultural, spiritual, educational and vocational measures that create conditions for the individual to attain the highest possible level of functional ability;

(f). Social Barriers       refer to the characteristics of institutions, whether legal, economic, cultural, recreational or other, any human group, community, or society which limit the fullest possible participation of disabled persons in the life of the group. Social barriers include negative attitudes which tends to single out and exclude disabled persons and which distort roles and interpersonal relationship. (Source: NCDA.gov.ph)

Essentially, the depression, anxiety, and psychological disorders could also be categorized as PWD, simply because; patients who have these problems are unable to gauge their feelings.

Allow me to share this story worth reading:

I attended an event about #inclusion at Accenture last year. I am amazed as this company hires PWDs. In fact, one of their email support representatives is deaf.

inclusion disability

Top photo: Jan Lim and When In Manila Millie. Jan is deaf and works at Accenture. Bottom photo: My late brother who was a pioneer of Teatro Silencio Pilipinas.

When it was time for the Q&A portion, one of the attendees aired his concern about those people who lack knowledge about “normally-looking-disabled” people.

Although, he looks physically normal, he still falls under “disabled.” He has this medical condition called Fecal (Bowel) Incontinence.

According to WebMD.com, fecal incontinence is an inability to control bowel movement. While it is common for older adults, it’s not a serious medical problem. The most common cause is the damage to the muscles around the anus. This condition can be prevented by surgical procedure or oral treatments.

It might, however, have a huge impact on the patient’s social activities and emotional attributes as it can cause severe embarrassment. (You know how people can be judgmental, right?)

Speaking of which, he shared one of his embarrassing moments. There was a time when he needed to go to the restroom, but unfortunately, the only available toilet was for the disabled and pregnant women.


The common sign we see at establishments.

The attendant stopped him since he didn’t look disabled. And because the attendant wasn’t aware of his condition, he had no choice but to “go.”

I can vividly remember that he left everyone misty-eyed, not because we felt bad for him, but because we didn’t know what a disabled person goes through every single day.

Fortunately, his work understands the importance of inclusion and will find a more accessible policy for employees like him.

On Spreading Awareness

One thing I’ve learned in life is people need constant awareness because we easily get distracted. We choose what we want to hear, see, and read. If it’s irrelevant, albeit helpful, we ignore.

Only a few would understand the issues of PWDs. But, if we talk about them more often, I am ultimately sure, our society or companies would appreciate and practice #inclusion.

I am glad that WhenInManila.com believes and supports the advocacy. We have a contributor who has hearing problems, and that doesn’t stop her from pursuing her passion in writing. Read her article here.

Respectfully, disabled people aren’t always in wheelchairs, sometimes, they look exactly like us: normal, yet suffering mentally and psychologically.


“The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” – Scott Hamilton

If you want your voice to be heard, contribute to us. Or you may send amazing stories about people with disabilities at millie.wheninmanila@­gmail.com with the subject: INCLUSION.

So, do you agree we should talk about them more often? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

Related Stories