While the literal meaning of the word independence can mean only one thing, its interpretation is numerous. It ranges from being able to choose what chocolate you want to eat to breaking free from social stigmas.
For most persons with disabilities (PwDs), the sense of independence is attained at a much older age and this is due to the overprotective nature of their primary caregivers. While the intent to shield the person from harm is coming from a good place, this repeated practice leads to a loss of autonomy of individuals. This behavior is mostly because PwDs are seen are people who need support and sympathy. Inclusion of PwDs on a societal level means that they are seen as citizens of a democratic country first and only secondarily as consumers which then ensures equal degrees of freedom and independence in their day-to-day lives. This perception will convert into development like removal of infrastructural, institutional and attitudinal barriers and the adoption of the Universal Design principle.
One of the easiest ways we can support the independence and dignity of PwDs is by adopting the mantra- ask and don’t assume. This mantra removes the perception that PwDs are problems to be solved thereby promoting equity, equal opportunities, self-determination, and self-respect of all members of the society.