Inappropriate disability-related term: otak kurang upaya

The usage of the term “otak kurang upaya” to describe inconsiderate people who misuse accessible parking spaces irks me no end. This post was written in reaction to the following article:
‘Otak kurang upaya’ – activist slams able-bodied who park in OKU spots

Calling inconsiderate drivers “otak kurang upaya” is derogatory and an insult to those with intellectual and psycho-social disabilities. These are two categories of disabilities recognised by the Department of Social Welfare under the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008.

It is unfortunate that a veteran disabled activist who is also an office bearer of a leading disability-related organisation in the country was reported to have used this term.

Champions of disability rights, whether they are disabled or non-disabled people, should choose their words wisely when pointing out cases like this. Creating awareness by using negative terms like that is counter-productive to the cause.

There are so many other appropriate terms that can be used to describe people who misuse accessible parking spaces like inconsiderate, lacking civic-consciousness, selfish and thoughtless.

People who are interested in protecting the rights of disabled people should think before they speak. And they should begin by not humiliating any group of disabled people when doing so.

Inappropriate disability-related terms: wheelchair-bound and able-bodied

This post was written in relation to the headline and content of the following article:
Wheelchair-bound Long Island teen is first in NY to compete against able-bodied foes

It is more appropriate to use wheelchair user instead of wheelchair bound and non-disabled people/persons instead of able bodied.

We use the wheelchair for mobility. We are not bound to it. We also use the regular chairs, toilet, car seat and bed. Why are we not described as bound to these as well?

In using the term wheelchair bound, one sees the equipment more than the person. It is better to focus on the person and use wheelchair user.

People are hindered from full and effective participation in society by attitudinal and environmental barriers. Given equal opportunities, everyone can enjoy full participation in all aspects of life.

We are disabled by those factors rather than our impairments. Therefore, when making a comparison with people who do not have impairments in this context, it is better to use non-disabled people/persons.

A toast to great accomplishments – Breaking Barriers – The Borneo Post – 27 December, 2015

A toast to great accomplishments
December 27, 2015, Sunday Peter Tan,

AS 2015 draws to a close, my heart is filled with tinges of nostalgia and a bundle of trepidation. It has been a year of more ups than downs, and I am thankful for small mercies that made those unpleasant times bearable. The remaining few days of the year will be cherished even more as I’ll soon be leaving the safety and comfort of the forties and tread into the unknown fifties.

I had a good look at myself in the mirror yesterday. The wisps of white hair on the front and both sides of my head have turned into large swaths of straggly grey. Wrinkles appeared to have burrowed deeper since that last time. My age is definitely showing – there is no escaping.

Life as a pentagenerian is going to be full of challenges. It will be as exciting as it is scary. Reaching my fiftieth year seemed so far away just a while ago. Now that it is incontrovertibly upon me, I have to admit I am feeling a little panicky.

What will it bring? How do I act that age? Is there a dummy’s guide to teach me how to go about it? So many questions begging answers.

Other than my existing health issues, I read that men 50 and above are recommended to undergo digital rectal examination as part of the annual physical check-up. This examination is to screen for prostate cancer. The procedure calls for the doctor to insert a gloved and lubricated finger into the rectum to feel around for abnormalities.

This is not the kind of milestone party I am looking forward to but one that has to be done regardless. Prostate problems are common after the age of 50 and are no laughing matter. I have witnessed the pain and suffering an uncle had to endure in the advanced stages of his prostate cancer. Therefore, this is an issue I am not going to take lightly. Like it or not, I’ll have it probed as recommended.

Going into 2016, I am not only celebrating the end of a wonderful year but also the wrapping up of a productive decade. I grew up tremendously in the last 10 years, more than all the 40 years before that. It all began when I got involved in disability rights advocacy. I lived outside my comfort one, learned new skills, travelled to faraway lands, got married and built a career.

It is a wonder so much can change in one decade. This is all thanks to friends who believed in me, supported me and provided ample opportunities for me to become the person I am today. My success wouldn’t be possible without them.

Going into the New Year and a new phase in life, I feel it is time for me to consolidate all the knowledge on disability rights advocacy I have gained and pass it on to the younger generation so that they can continue pushing for a more inclusive society. I was mentored into this role and responsibility 10 years ago and it is only right for me to support those who want to carry the baton.

I am not retiring just yet. I will still be involved in training and playing supporting roles. The activist blood in me still runs strong. As long as there are barriers, I will be there to push for their removal. Seeing how slow the progress is in making society barrier-free, I will still be doing this until the day I breathe my last, just like the leaders before me.

I have never had a bucket list. Today is as good as any time for me to draw up one for myself before I kick the bucket. At one time, I was tinkering with the idea of doing tandem skydiving and bungee jumping. The adrenaline rush would have been exhilarating. I now prefer something less strenuous not because I have become less adventurous, but because my body can no longer take the rigours demanded of these activities.

I am going hit the ground running in 2016. My appointment calendar for training next year is quickly filling up. It looks like it is going to be a very busy year ahead, with a lot of travelling involved. The irony is that the older I get, the busier I become when it should be the other way around.

I am not complaining. This is what I have committed to do this as long as I am able. All I need is strength to carry me through for my spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

All in all, life has been wonderful. I am blessed in so many ways. Workwise and personal-wise, I am as contented as I can be. I love what I do and do what I love.

What more can I ask for?

Here’s a toast to a great year and an even greater decade. May the next be as fruitful and productive.

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