DISABILITY:COMPAREAND CONTRAST BETWEEN SINGAPORE AND UK
Familiesof people with disabilities face several challenges in life makingthem fearful, sad, and worrisome since they have to contend with thereality that they cannot do anything to get the lives of their lovedones back to normal. They always live in denial knowing that theirchildren or spouses will have to go without doing some basicactivities for their entire lifetime. If, for instance, one of thechildren is disabled, other members of the family will tend to offerspecialized care and love to such a child, something that evokeshatred and emotional stress from other children, as they fail willalways see their parents caring for the disabled and forgetting abouttheir welfare. A parent spends more time with the disabled childtrying to show him or her love because this is psychologically provedto improve the health condition of the physically challenged memberof the family(Burch 2009).Disability takes various forms, including brain palsy, cerebralretardation, amputation, distressing brain damage, Down syndrome, andlearning disability, as is the case of ADHD. Parents, as well asother family members, find it difficult dealing and coping with theproblems associated disability. They end up having varied emotionsand they might not share with any person unless a specialized personintervenes to sort out the situation in a professional way. Thispaper looks at some of the challenges that families of disabled arelikely to go through leading to stress. The paper goes a notch highto suggest mitigation strategies since family members have to beresilient to accept and move on with the situation(Lansing 2009).
FinancialSaddle and Destitution
Anytime a parent realizes that one of the family member is disabled,they never sit down to calculate the costs that would bring back sucha member to normal instead they go on to explore all the availableavenues to sort the problem. They end up depleting the familyresources forgetting that other areas are equally important,especially the education and health of the supposedly normalchildren. They would probably undertake expensive medical activities,such as psychoanalysis, counselling, rehabilitation, physiotherapy,social development, and special schooling to help the disabledmember. Some of these interventions are costly and it would demandthat other members of the family sacrifice important things in life,including the most basic ones, such as food and clothing. Thesituation is worse if the parents or the leaders of the family arelow-income earners because they would not sustain these activitiesfor long(Longmore 2009).While non-governmental and public institutions might be willing tohelp, some families have little knowledge of the condition facingtheir beloved one and they might just resort to institutional helpwhen it is too late. In some cases, families are expected to taketheir disabled members to far-away places to receive specializedtreatment and as a result, they have to incur the costs of transportand upkeep. This happens especially when the family is hails from therural area yet the sought after service is only available in theurban centre. With time, the condition that was initially thought toaffect only one family member will have affected the entire family(Masala & Petretto 2008).In a situation where the child is born with mild cerebral palsy forinstance, the mother will do everything possible to solve theproblem. Such a child is likely to face challenges in communicating,apart from the various illnesses that will affect him or her. A childwith this condition needs constant mediations, orthopaedics, andspecialized instruments to help him or her in walking. With time,this child will need speech therapy, as this will help in speechdevelopment after which the family will incur the costs of taking himor her to development classes to help in proper socialization. Thiswill definitely stress up the family because resources will dry atone point (Bryan & Maxim 2006).
Whenevera family finds itself in a position where it has to take care of adisable member, chances are high that family friends, including somedistant family members, might isolate themselves because the stigmathat comes with this type of condition. A number of individuals areunaware of the strategies to be employed in coping with the realityof the disability problem. For some families, they spend their entiretime figuring out on what to do particularly to their loved one, aswell as themselves. The aim is always to make the situationmanageable to other family members and friends. To the extreme cases,some families tend to cut their socialization with other members ofthe society the moment they realize they have a family member who isin urgent need of special care. They are always worried because thesociety might respond negatively leading to isolation of thedisabled. For some, they pull away by relocating to new places wherethey are less known by the people around and they start forming newfriendships. Families at this point try to associate with otherfamilies that suffer from similar problems. The family friends,therefore, will be those in special needs community and the reasoningbehind this is that such friends will understand their problemsbetter. For instance, it is thought that new friends in special careinstitutions understand the remorse, trepidation, antagonism, loss,twinge, and uncertainties that the disability brings to familymembers. Isolation plays a critical role in stress developmentbecause they forever wish well for their loved ones irrespective ofthe condition(Burkhauser& Schmeiser 2012).
Inmany parts of the world, including Singapore and the United Kingdom,adults living with disabilities are yet to be accepted as ordinarymembers of society. When an adult makes a mistake in the publicplace, his or her disability condition is never taken intoconsideration instead, they are judged harshly just as other membersof society. It emerges that the family has to cope with two differentissues at the same time, one being the idea of judging its disabledmember and acceptance challenge since disabled people are consideredinferior members of society(Pearson 2006).In particular, a family member feels saddened when members of thepublic tend to suggest a solution to the exiting disability problem.This might suggest that the family is not doing enough to sort outthe problem. Many people think solving a disability is an easy thing,but the reality is it is complex and even the wealthiest familiesmight fail to get their member back to normal even though it might beconsidered a minor problem(Darling 2007).Any family with a disabled child, from time to time, faces socialacceptance and judgment problems from the members of the public (Chan2011).
Whileeach person is likely to face a form of hardship and difficulty inlife, people living with disabilities, as well as their families aremore often than not likely to encounter problems frequently. TheWorld Health Organization, in one of the reports, observed thatbarriers to the disabled people are more than physical impediments.The organization defines barriers as those factors in the environmentthat prevent the individual from functioning normally leading to adisability. Based on this definition, people with disabilities faceobstacles resulting from the physical environment, reluctance on theside of society to offer assistive technology, negative attitudesfrom members of the community, and defective systems and services.Some factors ground the movement and functionality of disabledpeople. Attitudinal barriers affect this category of the populationso much to an extent that it gives rise to other barriers. Under thisbarrier, an individual is denied access to particular places, whichis indeed a violation of individual freedom. This could perhaps limitthe individual from taking part in day-to-day social activities.Take, for instance, stereotyping where members of society believelives of the disabled persons is of poor quality and furthermore theyare unhealthy to participate in certain activities owing to theirimpairments. Associated with this are dishonour, bigotry, anddiscrimination and they emanate from people’s ideas where thecondition is viewed as an individual tragedy. Consequently, thedisabled are sick and they have to be cured first before interactingwith others(DePoy, & French, 2004).The reality is that disability comes about due to breakdown in socialand physical environment. If people could consider disability as anormal condition, they would perhaps take it as a socialresponsibility where each person has a role to play in mitigating it.Each person has to be supported without considering the condition inwhich they are in, as this is likely to enhance the quality of life.
Thosewith inability to hear, speak, read, write, and understand face thesecond type of barrier, communication. This group of persons usealternative ways of communication and it is upon society to help inexpressing themselves clearly(Johnstone 2001).The commercial adverts tend to print messages in a way that is likelyto discriminate against the visually impaired because they use smallwords that cannot be read unless special instruments are used. Forthose with cognitive impairment challenges, the use of technicallanguage, longer sentences, and complex words is a challenge to themyet commercial adverts have never considered this reality. Regardingthe policy barriers, lack of awareness and partial enforcement ofexisting rules is a challenge to the disabled(Priestley 2003).For instance, disabled people are often denied access to thefederally sponsored programs, which is a violation of their rights.In some organizations, qualified disabled persons are deniedemployment simply because the employer cannot provide importantfacilities needed in the daily operation. Program related barriersrefer to those that inconvenience the disabled as far as access toquality healthcare is concerned. These include scheduling, scarceequipments, time allocation, ineffective communication, andattitudes.
Thefindings of one of the studies that compared the health of disabledand those without disabilities gave a shocking revelation. The studyperhaps shows that people with disabilities have to cope with severalsocial barriers. Social barriers are associated with the environmentsin which people are born, brought up, work, and live(Charlton 2004).It is not surprising to note that those with disabilities are lesslikely to be employed, with the study showing that only six percentin are likely to be employed as compared to thirteen percent ofpeople without disabilities. Academically, people with disabilitiesover twenty-five years are likely to be illiterate because theyhardly finish high school. Again, those living with disabilities arelikely to languish in abject poverty, with most of them resorting tobegging, as compared to individuals without disability. In the schoolsystem, children with disabilities are often harassed in school ascompared to their counterparts without any disability condition.These statistics are shocking because disability is considered apersonal problem to an extent where members of society take advantageof it(Albrecht 2005).Still on the social front, disable persons are unlikely to accesspublic transport services at convenient places, something thatexposes them to danger.
BothSingapore and the United Kingdom have specific national strategiesfor catering for the interests of the disabled persons in theirindividual states. In the UK, the government has been active inensuring crucial bills catering for the rights of the disabled arepassed and implemented. The UK is far mush ahead as compared toSingapore because it allows disabled persons to serve even in theorganizations and institutions considering previously as the reserveof the able persons. In one of the final football matches in England,the British military surprised the entire world when it assigned thedisabled person the role of presenting the FA trophy to theofficials. The country has an elaborate system of dealing with thechallenges that disabled people face. In public and private schools,disabled persons with various impairments have the chance of goingthrough their educational systems uninterrupted because thefacilities are available. Any form of discrimination based ondisability is punished harshly in the country and all employees aresupposed to abide by the laws stipulating that at least a certainpercentage of the disabled have to be recruited. Socially, it hasbecome a rule that construction of public works should incorporatethe wishes and the desires of the disabled people failure of whichcourt tussles are the order of the day. This implies that the societyhas come to appreciate the fact that disability is a condition andnot a disease hence those facing challenges must be assisted toovercome these unfavourable conditions (Seale2013).
Unlikein the UK, the disabled in Singapore are yet to be sorted out becausethe existing strategies and public laws are insufficient inaddressing issues, such as transformation. The aim of transformationis perhaps to nurture societal members to achieve a common goalwithout discrimination. Unfortunately, the strategy is not working inthe country because stigmatization is still rife, especially on thementally challenged persons (Yap 2013). Prevention strategies are notaddressing the problems of the disabled as well becauserehabilitation centres are scarce, community outreach programs arescanty, and the concerned authorities are yet to establish thetraining schemes to support this category of the population (DisabledPeople’s Association Singapore 2013).Unlike in the UK where the disabled have access to medical insurance,the Singaporean society is yet to develop this program for thedisabled because the guiding registry to help in the disbursement ofpublic assistance is missing as well (National Council for SocialService 2015).
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