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Change the way you see disABILITY

Posted Oct 30 2008 3:30pm

Do you remember the lovable creatures from Aardman Animations? Hei sent me this link, showing adverts with subtitles, sign language and transcripts from Creature Discomforts, a campaign run by Leonard Cheshire Disability.

They’re different and highlight a number of prejudices and assumptions that people make. Has anyone spotted the campaign posters? There is a poster from this campaign at one of the London underground tube stations, which says something like ‘Do you believe in love at first sight? I’m blind and I fell in love at first touch’. That made me think about how one might relate to other people if they can’t be seen - but I would’ve thought you’d find someone attractive through their voice or what they said, and not through touch.

The voices behind the characters are those of people with disabilities, which is fab. Cath the Cat is voiced by Debbie Reynolds, who is hard of hearing and runs her own business, the School of Sign Language.

The characters echo three of my main gripes; patronising treatment, stares, and impatience. I hate people treating me as if I’m thick. I’m not. But what does that say about them? I sometimes say ‘Hey, I wasn’t born deaf either. Why are you treating me like this?’ and watch them go red. I also get fed up with being stared at when I’ve got my Hearing Dog with me. I often feel like saying ‘It’s a dog!’. I hate it when people say ‘It doesn’t matter’ when I haven’t heard them. It DOES matter. I won’t be belittled and anyone who tries is in for a fight. Hey, I’m human too. People put others down because they need to make themselves feel better - if you’re confident and positive, you won’t need to stoop so low.

Hopefully this campaign will raise awareness and make people realise that people with disabilities or medical problems don’t want pity. They aren’t non-people. They’re still people with feelings just like everyone else. They just want respect and independence. They’re as able as the rest of us, they just happen to manage or carry things out in a different way. It’s not nice to have fun poked at you just because you’re a bit different. This is a fun way of getting that point across. I just wish there wasn’t so much focus on wheelchairs and walking sticks - there is a lot of diversity out there!

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