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March 26, 2018 | by  | in Can Do Opinion |
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What is disability?

Sometimes the answers to questions we have can be hard to find. Spending hours putting keywords into google with no intelligible response can be frustrating and fruitless — especially terms like disability, which encompasses a diverse range of impairments.

Here at Victoria, Disability Services uses this definition: “We view disability as a diverse and complex phenomenon, reflecting an interaction between an individual and their environment.”

This might seem a bit vague, but it does define disability. Often we consider a disability to be the impairment that someone has, but disability occurs when society assumes that everyone interacts with their environment in the same way.

For example, someone who uses a mobility aid such as a wheelchair or cane could have restricted movement in a building that only has stairs. Someone who has a visual impairment could need a note-taker for lectures, or accessible technology so that they can interact with their notes. These things seem obvious, but disabled people regularly encounter situations where what is considered normal doesn’t work for them.

But what is normal? The answer is an extensively diverse and beautiful world — but for disabled people, their experience is seen as abnormal, despite being part of the human experience.  

Why should we define disability? Because disabled people deserve accessibility to everyday life, no matter how they interact with their environment or what needs they have. By defining disability, we can create more avenues for accessibility.

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He Tāonga

:   I wanted to write this piece, in order to connect to all tauira within the University, with the hope that we can all remind ourselves that we are a part of an environment which is valuable, no matter our culture, our beliefs or our skin colour. The ultimate purpose of this