Disability is almost synonymous with disadvantage. Thus people with disabilities have to face various challenges in life such as employment against able-bodied individuals vying for the same positions. Those lucky few who manage to obtain gainful employment, for positions specifically designated for people with disabilities or universal positions, face another challenge, one which will make us realise that prejudice against individuals with disabilities is as real and damaging as, for example, racial prejudice, except only that it has remained more elusive.
An aspiring lawyer, who is visually impaired, has managed to obtain gainful employment at a prestigious law firm. With the help of audio aids, such as computer software which uses audible cues, this aspiring lawyer is working alongside her able-bodied colleagues.
It is fascinating how, with her heightened sense of hearing, this aspiring lawyer can hear these with audio aids, especially when taken into consideration the fact that the decibel levels in her office are similar to those at a busy grocery store.
What is perturbing to note is that, whilst almost all of her colleagues are oblivious to her use of audio aids, one has taken a strong resentment and made several complaints, a seeming vendetta, vexation which will only relent when this aspiring lawyer either leaves of her own volition or is required to do so.
This situation highlights the ongoing struggles faced by individuals with disabilities and is a manifestation of covert and surreptitious prejudice harboured by people against individuals with disabilities, either knowingly or unknowingly.
Prejudice against individuals with disabilities is an issue which must be addressed so that we do not further disadvantage those who are disadvantaged to begin with.
MOHAMED VAWDA Karachi