A Day in a Life With Disability
Genio Trust8 November 2011 - Original Source
Don Bailey, who navigates life in a wheelchair, spent most of his early life living in institutional care. When he left St. Joseph’s Hospital in Coole, Ireland at age twenty and moved to Dublin to work, he found the challenges of living on his own too difficult to manage. He quit his job and moved back home with family. But three years later, he tried it again. This time, he developed a support network of colleagues and community members who offered him help when he needed it. Through the network he joined other people with disabilities, and Don learned about personal assistant services that provide day-to-day customised support. This opened a world of opportunities.
“The older you get, and more disabled, the less energy you have to spend on the important but mundane things, and the less energy you have for living,” Don says. “ After a very short period it dawned on me how much more of life was available.” Don now serves in a managerial position at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and is an active member of the disability community in Dublin. He is also an advocate for others on disability-related issues. “I do get involved in disability issues, again because it allowed me a socialisation outlet, but now I do it because I enjoy it,” he said. “I think once we bring society with us we become part of society, not a subset of society, which is outside society. If we don’t achieve that then society is going to fail.”
Don’s story was told to us by Genio, an Atlantic grantee that works to transform the way in which services for people with disabilities are designed and delivered. By focussing on the person and his or her needs, Genio helps to ensure that people with disabilities are treated with dignity and respect and have the support necessary to live full lives in their communities. In this way, Genio aims to ensure that Don’s story becomes the norm rather than the exception.
Though people with disabilities are the largest minority in the world – in 2011 the World Health Organization and World Bank estimated that there are nearly one billion globally – many of them are invisible and without voice, too often defined by their limitations rather than their capabilities. These societal attitudes and a dominant medical approach in many parts of the world leave many people with disabilities lacking access to the supports and services required to lead lives with dignity and respect.
Genio Trust is an Atlantic grantee through the Reconciliation and Human Rights Programme in the Republic of Ireland where access to rights and services for people with disabilities is a key area of strategic focus.