Stereotypical Belief towards the Disabled and Strategies for Eradication

StereotypicalBelief towards the Disabled and Strategies for Eradication

Stereotypicalview towards the disabled and strategies for eradication

Manypeople perceive disability in innumerable ways. In some instances, adisabled person becomes an object of curiosity, pity, sympathy orrejection in a social crowd due to prejudice and stereotypicalbeliefs (Wright, 1960). Theoretically, many stereotypical beliefs arebecause of attribution and self-perception theory. In manycommunities, various stereotypical beliefs people have about thedisabledforce this human diversity group to exclude themselves from othermembers of the society. This paper will discuss one stereotypicalbelief towards the handicapped, particularly, the blind and outlinefive effective strategies to eradicate them.

Commonstereotypical belief towards the disabled

Thehuman diversity group that this paper will address is the disabledand, in particular, the blind. One of the common stereotypicalbeliefs about the blind is that they have some super-power, commonlyreferred as a sixth sense to be able to accomplish with ease thevarious chores that normal people do. A social psychology theoryknown as attribution theory main explains the way in which peopleattribute the behavior of other. Normal people tend to attribute theabilities of the blind to execute various duties at ease to having asixth sense. I have held that stereotypical belief that the blindhave a sixth sense until my second year on campus.

Havingattained knowledge on various social psychology theories learned fromthis course, I could confidently say that the stereotypical beliefthat the blind people have a sixth sense came to be due to variousreasons. A common stereotypical belief towards the blind and thedisabled since time in the memorial is that this human diversitygroup is helpless and depends heavily on assistance to be able toexecute various tasks. In third world countries, many blind peopleend up on the streets and public grounds begging for financialassistance. Despite the stigma, discrimination, and misinformedattitudes, many disabled people have struggled to live a full andindependent life (Abberley, 1987 Anthony 1972 Antonak, Fiedler &ampMulick, 1989).

Inparticular, most people consider people on wheelchairs and the blindas dependent. Therefore, when they execute various tasks, people formstereotypical beliefs that they are courageous, have super-powers oran additional sense that normal people do not have. From a socialidentity theory point of view, I can say that I embraced thestereotypical belief that the blind have a sixth sense bycategorizing them as people who cannot live a fully independent life.According to Barnes and Mercer (2005), categorizing the disabled aspersons with no capability is a source of various stereotypicalbeliefs towards this human diversity group. Observing them walkingin towns independently and executing various tasks reinforced mystereotypical belief regarding their consecration with a supernaturalcapability that assists them carry out various activities thatsighted people do.

Abrief history of the disabled and their struggles for inclusiveness

Historically,people with disability have struggled to live their independent livesin a society full of stigma, discrimination, misinformed attitudesand segregation (Antonak et al., 1989 Deal 2007). Most legislation,policies, and practices have considered disabled people as sick,limited in terms of functionality, and unfit (Barnes &amp Mercer,2005). Such beliefs and attitudes contributed to the social exclusionof people with disability in many societies. According to Antonak etal. (1989), during the 16thcentury, Christians such as John Calvin and Luther formed the beliefsthat evil spirits possessed the disabled especially the mentallyretarded. Therefore, religious leaders who had a lot of influence inthe society back then greatly influenced societies to formstereotypical beliefs towards the disabled leading to theiroppression and social segregation (Gellman,1959Abberley, 1987).

Accordingto Barnes &amp Mercer (2005), in the Greek community, people saw thedisabled as inferior to normal people and this lead to muchdiscrimination especially in terms of employment and equal treatment.Plato recommended in his Republic that the society exclude thedisabled and deformed (Gellman,1959).Wright(1960) explains that tofight for inclusion of the disabled in the society, the earlyChristian doctrine disregarded the belief that disability was a formof punishment or sin. Instead, Wright (1960) asserts that theyregarded it as a means of purification and a way of grace.

Duringthe 19thcentury, followers of social Darwinism resisted the help that thestate gave to the disabled considered poor. From Darwinism point ofview, the conservation of the “unfit” would obstruct theprocedure of natural selection. Also, it would interfere with theassortment of the fittest essentials crucial for producing the nextgenerations (Gellman, 1959). Dogmas that shaped discrimination andprejudice against disabled people forced people with disability tounite under Disability Rights Movement and fight for their rights ashuman beings (Stroman,2003).&nbspAccordingto Shapiro(1993), people with all different kinds of disabilities joined their forcesto accomplish one goal to gain acceptance in the workforce and fightdiscrimination and exclusion from activities and events.

Themovement brought many changes in the manner in which people treatedthe disabled across different countries all over the world. Manycountries such as the UK and USA made it illegal to discriminatepeople in the workforce based on disability(Bagenstos, 2009).Currently, many countries even in the Africa continent have includedthe disabled in their workforce. In the field of education,perceptions towards the disabled have changed considerably (Hall,2010). However, there are some challenges faced by this humandiversity group in societies, which still embrace the variousstereotypical beliefs towards them. According to Johnsonand The Ragged Edge Online Community (2006), ensuring a sound andeasily accessible environment in schools for disabled remain thegreatest barrier in education today.

Howand what informed my views

BeforeI joined campus, I rarely interacted with the disabled, especiallythe blind. I can, therefore, say that I heavily relied onstereotypical beliefs towards these people from my close associate toform my views about the blind. According to Wright (1960), a personlearns the stereotypes that other people have developed towards agroup of people and develops his auto-stereotype to match. Wrightdescribes the self-concept theory as a social looking glass in whichideas about the self-materialize because of relations with others. Igrew in a society in which the disabled have struggled to liveindependently and beat all the odds to accomplish their goals inlife. Looking at how the blind succeed as doctors and lecturers aswell centering on the various stereotypes towards the blind, Ibelieve disabled people have special skills, a sixth sense, and thecapacity to achieve as much as normal people.

Effectsof my stereotype beliefs on the society and the world

Mystereotype towards the disabled as being blesses with supernaturalpowers such as the blind having a sixth sense has greatly affectedthe society. The stereotype has not only affected the treatment ofthe blind in the society but most importantly, whom the disabledperceive themselves (Abberley, 1987). Wright states that the messagethat a disabled child receives about himself from his environmentdetermines a lot his feelings to who he is and his behavior. Mystereotype has greatly affected the self-image of persons withdisability. For instance, the stereotype belief that the blind have asixth sense may contribute to mind perceiving themselves as beingdifferent from other people in the society. Such perceptions haveresulted to disabled people feeling inferior or uncomfortableinteracting freely with others in the society (Deal, 2007).

Stereotypestowards the disabled have also contributed largely to how the largersociety treats this human diversity. The stereotypical belief thatthe disabled especially the blind, are independent and limited interms of functionality, contributing to their exclusion fromemployment opportunities (Barnes &amp Mercer, 2005). From theself-perception theory, the stereotypes also limit the opportunity ofthe disabled to associate with others due to the impact suchstereotypes have on the self-image. The people still holding suchstereotypes continue to impact on the society`s attitudes towardsthis human diversity group. According to Brostrand (2006), peopleneed to change their insolences towards the disabled to ensure aninclusive society devoid of any form of discrimination.

Anexperience that reinforced my stereotype towards the disabled

Afterjoining campus, I became friends with a blind lady who lived in anapartment within the university surroundings. On one afternoon, sheinvited me over for lunch. I gladly agreed and upon getting to herapartment, I was astonished that she lived there by herself. I wasalso surprised that the apartment was so organized and tidy, and thiscompelled me to take her whether she had some helper. From mystereotypical belief that blind people cannot live an independentlife, I quickly thought that there was an assistant who helped herkeep her apartment tidy. She replied my question while smiling “thatis the misconception many of you people have about our disability”.She told me that she lives alone and does everything by herself. Toaffirm this, she prepared a meal of rice and pork and to my surprise,she was so aware of where she kept all her accessories and whateverneeded to execute a certain task. Before this encounter, what mypeers believed about the blind solely shaped my typecast. However,interacting with my lady friend who was blind and, in particular, thelunch experience, I strongly believed that the blind are not normaland are people blessed with a sixth sense.

Condemnationof the stereotype towards the disabled

Afterthe encounter with blind woman friend, I became closer to her tolearn how she lives an independent life and find out if there are anychallenges that she encounters in her daily routine. I came to learnthat before getting adapted to a new environment, the blindexperience many challenges and sometimes require some kind ofassistance. Through self-determination and internalization of theenvironment, they get used to it through touching just as sightedpeople do through perceiving. The blind people since do not have theability to see, make full use of the other four senses such as taste,smell and touch to learn about their environment and know how tomaneuver around it and with ease carry their day-to-day activities.According to Shapiro(1993),disabled people do not need pity from us but need us to understandthem as normal human beings who can comfortably live an independentlife. My interactions with my lady friend greatly changed bystereotypes towards the blind and currently, I perceive not only theblind but people with all forms of disability as people with normalcapabilities just as the sighted people.

Theoreticalanalysis of the change in my personal engagement with the disabled

Thereare various theories, which have studied in this course that hasgreatly affected my personal engagement with the disabled. Theattribution theory revolves how people attribute the behavior ofothers. This theory can greatly explicate my stereotype towards theblind since I attributed the ability of the blind to having a sixthsense. According to Wright (1960), attributing certain traits to thedisabled greatly contributed to their self-image and the way thelarger society treated them. Social identity theory explains theimpacts of categorizing people into groups on their perceptions,attitudes and behavior. Back in high school, I rarely interacted withthe disabled, in particular, the blind, since I perceived them aspeople who kept to themselves and just wanted to interact with otherdisabled people. However, having learned about social identitytheory, I have gained an understanding that categorizing disabledpeople as people with inability makes them exclude themselves andavoid interacting with non-disabled people.

Self-verificationis another theory that has enhanced my understanding and interactionwith the disabled. The disabled people need the society to understandthem to overcome their various stereotypes towards them and makehumanity civilized. Thisdevelopment has significantly boosted my understanding of how thedisabled perceive themselves and by accepting them as normal peoplewith ability and not super-natural powers my personal engagementwith this human diversity group has greatly improved. The theory ofself-perception has greatly influenced how I perceive the disabledand my attitudes towards them. Before interacting with my blind landfriend, I perceived the blind as being different from sighted peopleas myself. However, the concept of self-perception has enlightened mymisinformed beliefs about the disabled and enabled me to perceivethem as I perceive myself. Thanks to this course, I have gained anin-depth understanding of the disabled, and I can interact with themwithout forming any stereotype towards the abilities they exhibitfreely and comfortably.

Fivestrategies to eradicate stereotypical belief towards the disabled

AccordingtoHoney,Emerson &amp Llewellyn (2009), unless governments make legislationand policies to include fully the disabled, and then the socialhealth of the disabled will always take a deleterious paradigm.Having understood the theory behind the behavior of the disabled andthe various challenges they under, the following are the top fivechange strategies, which I would implement to overcome the variousstereotype towards them:

  1. Formulation and implementation of an inclusive school curriculum

Aschool curriculum entails all learning activities carried out bypupils including the knowledge, skills to which all children haverights. Accordingto Hall (2010) and Shapiro (1993), curriculum is very important infighting prejudice and eradicating stereotypical beliefs since itwill give the non-disabled children a chance to interact with themhence better understand them. Taking the role of a national leader, Iwould ensure the national curriculum covers the inclusion of thedisabled children in all public schools and ensure the governmentfinances for the oversight and success of such a curriculum.

  1. Formulation and implementation of an inclusive workforce policy

Toensure that the disabled are given equal opportunity in terms ofemployment opportunities, I would ensure that an implementation of aninclusive workforce policy in both the public and the private sector.When the society gives the disabled an equal opportunity to exhibittheir ability, it helps the workmates and the society to focus ontheir abilities and not their disabilities (Emerson,Baines &amp Hatton, 2007). This strategy is important since it will lead to disability equalityand at the same allow for the social inclusion of the disabled makingthe society understand better this human diversity group.

  1. An inclusive organizational culture that embraces human diversity in all private and public organizations

Takingthe role of a leader in the labor sector, I would work towards thedevelopment and effective implementation of an organization culturethat embraces and respects human diversity. Law to ensure that peoplein either the public or private sector who illegally discriminateagainst the disables receive punishment accordingly will protect sucha culture. Such a strategy would be effective in educating the publicon the importance of diversity and the benefits of co-existingpeacefully in the workplaces and the wider society without any formof discrimination(Brostrand, 2006).

  1. Social forums to educate the public on the need for an inclusive society

Accordingto Clement &amp Bigby (2008), strategies that focus on law andlegislation cannot be effective when used alone in eradicatingstereotypical beliefs towards the disabled. Attitude is apsychological behavior that the society cannot change throughpunishment and rules alone, but also through the creation ofawareness. As a community leader, I would organize social forums toeducate the public on the need to understand the disabled as normalpeople with various abilities, which can be of great benefit to thecommunity. I would use outgoing disabled people to address suchforums to persuade the society members to gain an understanding ofthis human diversity group and promote an inclusive community.

  1. Organizing for public cultural events inclusive of the disabled

Culturalevents will give the non-disabled members of the society a chance tosee the various talents of the disabled. I would ensure thatnon-governmental organization and other charitable groups sponsor,finance, and hold such events to enhance people’s interaction andhence understanding the disabled people.


Thepaper has extensively tackled the stereotype towards the disabled, inparticular, the belief that the blind have a sixth sense. There isenough theoretical evidence that such stereotypical beliefs greatlyaffect self-perception and the behavior of the disabled. Strategiessuch as inclusive workforce policy, an inclusive school curriculumand educative social forums can be effective in eradicating thestereotypical beliefs, which still hinder the inclusion of thedisabled people in some communities.


Abberley,P. (1987). The concept of oppression and the development of a socialtheory of disability. Disability,Handicap and Society, vol.2, no. 1, pp. 5–19.

Anthony,W. (1972). Societal rehabilitation: changing society’s attitudetoward the physically and mentally handicapped. RehabilitationPsychology,vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 117–26.

Antonak,R., Fiedler, C. &amp Mulick, J. (1989). Misconceptions relating tomental retardation. MentalRetardation,vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 91–7.

Bagenstos,S. (2009).&nbspLawand the Contradictions of the Disability Rights Movement&nbsp(YaleUniversity Press)

Barnes,C. &amp Mercer, G. (2005). Disability, work and welfare: challengingthe social exclusion of disabled people. Work,Employment and Society,vol. 19. no. 3, pp. 527–45.

Begab,M. (1970). Impact of education on social work students’ knowledgeand attitudes about mental retardation.American Journal of Mental Deficiency, vol. 74, no. 6, pp. 801–8.

Brostrand,H.L. (2006). Tilting at windmills: changing attitudes toward peoplewith disability. Journal of Rehabilitation,vol. 72, no. 1, pp. 4–9.

Clement,T. &amp Bigby, C. (2008). Making life good in the community:building inclusive communities, Reportfor the Department of Human Services,Victoria.

Deal,M. (2007). Aversive disablism: subtle prejudice toward disabledpeople.Disability &amp Society,vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 93–107.

Emerson,E., Baines, S. &amp Hatton, C. (2007). Disabilityequality: how will we know we are making a difference?Summary of the results of consultation, Office for DisabilityIssues, London.

GellmanW. (1959). Roots of prejudice against the handicapped.Journal of rehabilitation,&nbsp254-256.

Hall,S. (2010). Socialinclusion of young adults with intellectual disability: aphenomenology of their experiences.PhD Thesis, University of Nebraska.

Honey,A., Emerson, E. &amp Llewellyn, G. (2009). The mental health ofyoung people with disability: impact of social conditions. SocialPsychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology,vol. 46, no. 1, pp.1–10.

Johnson,M. &amp The Ragged Edge Online Community. (2006).&nbspDisabilityAwareness – do it right! Your all-in-one how-to guide&nbsp(TheAdvocado Press).

Shapiro,J. P. (1993)&nbspNoPity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil RightsMovement&nbsp(TimesBooks).

Stroman,D. (2003).&nbspTheDisability Rights Movement: From Deinstitutionalization toSelf-Determination&nbsp(UniversityPress of America).

Wright,B.A. (1960).&nbspPhysicaldisability: A psychological approach.New York: Harper and BON.

Wright,B.A. (1973). Changes and attitudes towards handicapped people.Rehabilitation Literature,&nbsp34,354 368.