Protect Rights Of The Differently-abled
Islam enjoins Muslims to always give respect to others, regardless of their abilities, skin colours etc. We are urged to not even try to hurt their emotions and feelings as this would lead to disharmony. Allah says in the Quran, in verse 2 of surah al-Maidah which means “…help one another in righteousness and piety, but help not one another in sin and rancour”. In fact, Islam as a way of life is so prolific in its teachings and legacy as well as heritage when it comes to the treatment and management of people and even those with disabilities.
People with disabilities are individuals who have a broad range of impairments along with specific issues and needs that correspond to the type of disabilities they have. It is a matter of fact that people with disabilities are a part of society and they deserve all the facilities, rights and respect that exist in the society as what those with abilities receive. Indeed, their rights should be of concern to the society. As part of society, people with disabilities have the same kind of needs and issues to be met, fulfilled and accomplished. The popular belief and understanding is that their needs and issues are above and beyond their capacity to handle and manage by themselves, and thus, restrict their potential capacity to live life fully. No doubt, that most of the time, their issues and needs are perceived as extraordinary or impossible to be fulfilled even by their own family members let alone the general public. However, learning a new perspective of looking at their needs and issues is important to have a clear and correct understanding about what people with disabilities can bring to the society, as well as the belief that they can successfully contribute to the wellbeing of the ummah as a whole.
Disabilities are varied in that they come in different kinds of characteristics and forms. On the one hand, some individuals may have physical impairments and limitations that restrict their ability and strength which may strike our realisation that people with special needs are actually amongst us. On the other hand, there might be people in the society who are without obvious or clear physical appearance of impairment or difficulties, but they are in fact a group of individuals with special needs, as are those with mental health problems and mental illnesses. This also includes individuals with neurodevelopmental disability categories like autism disorder, people with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder or someone with learning disabilities such as dyslexia, and so on. Such people cannot be recognised as easily as a majority of them are asymptomatic, or have no obvious symptoms at all. Therefore, we cannot use the same ways that we used to, when we approach or deal with them, because their needs and capacities are different from people with abilities whom we generally encounter.
People with disabilities might look normal outwardly but the fact is they are special and therefore require a special kind of treatment with specific approaches. Most of the time perhaps, this might eventually lead to misunderstanding and frustration because normally, people with abilities expect or take for granted that others act and respond in the usual and expected way as they always do for themselves, yet life is not as we expect it always to be so. Hence, from now onwards, we have to put in extra effort to understand that there are some hidden or unapparent disabilities. They are so because we always see their world from our own perspectives, rather than from that of people with disabilities. Sadly, due to this lack of empathy, we tend to judge them negatively such that most of the time, we end up ourselves in regret for our thoughtlessness. Hence, there should be some sort of guidelines or recommendations which are good enough to be observed as a kind of standard practice or standard guideline that we can rely on when we deal with people with disabilities. However, what is the good or acceptable practice standard of approaching and dealing with people or individuals with disabilities, especially when things go wrong?
The standard of practice is a set of procedures that we believe is good and acceptable enough in guiding our decision making and solutions towards certain issues. In relation to the management of people with disabilities, the standard of practice serves as guidance for people with abilities in helping those with disabilities in any arising matters, so that issues would be resolved fairly and appropriately. The main objective of the practice standards is to protect the rights and establish a sense of respect to the dignities of individuals with disabilities.
Why do we need this practice standard in the first place? Indeed, we are in a dire need of a practice standards because of the absence of any existing ones that would be able to help or teach us how to deal with people with disabilities for their special conditions and that they need special kind of treatment that we do not know of. With the one at hand, it would help and guide us how to act and respond to them appropriately and with respect that uphold their dignity as human beings. Furthermore, we need practice standards as it also protects us from any misconduct or misappropriation or malpractices and negligence, and in no way will we be liable to any legal or ethical misappropriation since we have already abided by what is stated in the standards.
Last but not least, the standards also protects people with disabilities as it maintains and upholds their sense of dignity, respect and rights as humans. The standards ensures that there will be neither abuse, nor violence, nor discrimination upon them by anyone. The standards, therefore, will stand as a platform for the people with disabilities to seek any legal or ethical protection should any problem, misbehaviour or misconduct occurs against their rights and dignities.
Indeed, this is the right time for the community to start thinking of establishing the specific standard of practices in logistic areas related to the wellbeing of people with disabilities, presumably at the national level which are applicable across agencies and organisations. The standards will determine the type of procedures and practices when dealing or providing services to them in areas such as health and medicals, education or the judiciary system. This will finally ensure that the services being sought are observed ethically and delivered successfully. Hopefully, with the establishment of specific practice standards for them, incidents such as the recent one that befell on the young man with autism who was arrested for touching a woman’s chest would not have happened in the first place.