Seeing the world from another person’s point of view is one of life’s hardest tasks.
For those of us who do not live with a disability, we go about our day oblivious to some of the smallest things that can be the biggest challenges: door handles that are too high to reach from a wheelchair; slippery stones on a pathway; getting up a flight of stairs; taking a shower; getting dressed.
Local disability advocate Gracie Grantham has been educating the Orcas community about what it’s like living with cerebral palsy. In late March, she wrote a letter to the editor about her struggles getting around Eastsound and frequenting establishments with her service dog.
Last week she sat down with a group of Salmonberry School students to answer their questions. One of her greatest struggles is accessibility.
If you own a business, think about how someone in a wheelchair or with a walker would be able to get inside. Are there stairs? Is there a ramp? Is the door really heavy?
Take a moment to think about living with a disability. What if you were blind? Deaf? Paralyzed?
If you see an elderly or disabled person struggling, Grantham encourages you to ask if he/she needs help. More often than not, that person would love the assistance but may be too shy to speak up.
We hope Grantham’s story gives us all a lesson in Empathy 101. We know it did for some of our island children.