This is a personal experience that I went through recently as I tried to get myself a room in a private hostel. This is not to draw sympathy but to highlight the fact that these incidents can occur.
As I have come close to wrapping up my degree, the time to vacate the university hostel drew closer. I have had pleasant memories in my hostel. I have never gone through any major incidents except a few misunderstandings. The warden of the hostel was understanding.
She took great pains to make everyone feel comfortable. She herself said, “It is my first time boarding people with disabilities in my hostel, although I have little awareness. All I can do is to make the students feel comfortable when they come and ask me for it.” She was such a humble and empathetic person. From that day she uttered these words, I had immense respect for her.
“It is my first time boarding people with disabilities in my hostel, although I have little awareness. All I can do is to make the students feel comfortable when they come and ask me for it.”
After discussing with my family, we boarded me in a private hostel where my sister lived. Before boarding me in the hostel, my sister requested the warden and the members of the hostel to let her sister with deafness board the hostel.
Upon entering the hostel, they were hesitant to board me in their hostel. Despite my father explaining and reassuring them over and over that she is very independent and can do everything on her own.
Their answer to my father’s explanation was disbelief. They found it shocking that I could walk on the road all by myself. They gave the word to my father that they would give me room after discussing with the board members. I had to take my things once again to the previous hostel, hoping I could board the next day with no issues.
The next day arrived. I packed my things and gave the notice to the hostel warden notifying her I would leave the hostel after I do the exams. My sister had to call them asking if they could confirm if I could board the hostel today.
We could not believe the answer they gave us. They forgot to bring the topic to the board meeting and ask her to wait for the next week until the next board meeting. My sister’s question to them was, “Where is she going to stay today?”
You can also be ignorant of the issues that people with disabilities go through daily. You can put people with disabilities in horrible situations because of your narrow mindset.
After multiple calls back and forth, without receiving an answer, we had hoped to get for the day. My dad called them to request confirmation. Their reply was they could not board me because of my disability.
My dad called us back in a tone of anger, asking us to go to the hostel. He asked us to get the police involved if they discriminated against me because of my disability.
Upon entering the hostel’s foyer, we asked the warden of the hostel. We asked why they neglected to bring the topic into the meeting today. We also asked to speak with the director of the hostel directly. Upon failing to reach out to her, we waited in the foyer for hours until the director picked the phone.
The director of the hostel did not budge over the issue, claiming that I need 'special' attention and care. I use the word 'special' here sarcastically because I do not need any attention. She assumed that I would need special attention, without even meeting or talking to me. She directed her focus on my disability. What I needed at that moment was acceptance. It is not so hard to give someone the acceptance they deserved.
Moreover, I speak for myself; I had to go through struggles as a deaf individual, but I tackled the heck out of them because they make me, me.
After going back and forth about my needs, independence, and rights, she realized that I do not have anywhere to go. She realized that her perception of my disability has been so wrong after talking to a particular young border of the hostel. The young border was more open-minded than the director who held such an esteemed position.
This incident taught me a valuable lesson. Even if you have had higher education or had a limited education, you can still be against a person of disability. You can also be ignorant of the issues that people with disabilities go through daily. You can put people with disabilities in horrible situations because of your narrow mindset.
It is because of these situations, that people with disabilities are hesitant to ask for help. Fearing that they might be discriminated against. They would have to go through the hassle of proving themselves capable, to people with a narrow mindset.
We do not need piety either. All we need is acceptance in society, and to be not cast into a situation where the family would have to take drastic measures to feel included. You may have met a deaf person or a person with a disability, but his/her experience does not speak for all deaf people.
Get to know them for who they are. Look into what they can bring to the community. Celebrate the difference each individual brings out because every one of us is on the journey to find out what makes us, us. Many people think that people with disabilities struggle or go have a sad life. Moreover, I speak for myself; I had to go through struggles as a deaf individual, but I tackled the heck out of them because they make me, me.