Mentor Tip: Disability Acceptance

Send this message to the mentors only.

Subject: Mentoring tips on disability acceptance

People with disabilities who consider themselves successful generally accept their disabilities as simply one aspect of who they are. They do not define themselves by their disabilities. They recognize that they are not responsible for their disabilities; instead, they take responsibility for their own happiness and success. People with disabilities who responded to an online survey on this topic made the following statements:

  • God makes each one of us with an ability; society creates the "dis." (adult with a visual impairment)
  • My personal opinion about disabilities is that everyone is disabled. It just so happens that there is a certain group whose disabilities are more obvious than others. (high school student with mobility and visual impairments)
  • Believe in who you are and what you want to achieve, and don't let anyone or anything stop you from reaching your goals. (college student with a mobility impairment).
  • Sometimes you run into people who think it is extraordinary that you do what you do with a disability. The important people in your life (like your parents) expect you to earn your way in the world and be responsible just like everybody else. (college student who is blind)
  • Don't allow anyone to convince you that your disability is disabling! Don't allow society to ban you from a certain profession simply because disabled individuals have traditionally avoided that field! Remember always that you and only you have control of your life. (college student with a mobility impairment)
  • My mom, my grandma, and my aide at school are all responsible people and have taught me that characteristic. If you aren't responsible, you won't succeed. Not only should you take responsibility for the good things, but also for your mistakes. (young person with Muscular Dystrophy)
  • My parents helped me learn to accept responsibility for myself by treating me the same as my siblings. They gave me the same punishments and chores, and they expect me to do well in school. (high school student with speech, hearing, and mobility impairments)
  • My mom gave me enough independence so that I could learn the consequences of my actions. This is how I developed good judgment. I also learned that constructive criticism is a good thing....It's how I learn to do things more efficiently the next time around. This is where mentors become a valuable resource. (graduate student with a hearing impairment)
  • There was a teacher who opened my door to the world. She taught me to accept who I was. Early on, I began building self-confidence and self-esteem. To this day, those qualities allow me to stand up for my beliefs and to act on my own convictions. (college student with a hearing impairment)
  • As people with disabilities we need to be assertive about what we need and don't need. We need to make our needs clearly, politely known. (adult with a mobility impairment)
  • Do not make people feel sorry for you or pity you. Get people to view you as an able person who is capable of anything within your reach if the doors of opportunity are open. (graduate student with a hearing impairment)
  • Clearly, disabilities can be obstacles. However, it's important to focus on obstacles that problem solving can surmount. Sometimes trade-offs do exist. I once wanted to go into biochemistry, but my lack of fine-motor skills and general distrust of lab partners made me realize that I wanted something I could do on my own—hence, history-philosophy. Admittedly, I rerouted, but for those who are determined to be biochemists and such, most obstacles can be overcome with abilities. (college student with a mobility impairment)
  • We should focus on the ABILITY in disability more than the DIS. If we can do that, then we are more apt to succeed. Also, know your limits. If you don't know what you can or can't do, how do you expect other people to know? Plan for success by using more of the cans than the can'ts. (college student with mobility impairments)