For six months I have been working with people with disabilities, a social group that did not attract my attention, until relatively recently, it was a reality far from me, in my close social circle there was no one with disabilities, however, things began to change when during my university studies I had the great opportunity to have classmates with disabilities.
It was extremely interesting to see this process, it caught my attention to see that one of my colleagues who was hearing impaired had a real-time translation of the classes in sign language, or another colleague who had low vision, she was so independent in her day to day, and currently runs an organization that works with this group and has been able to be a mother.
This experience changed me, but what changed my life the most was when I had an accident and injured my ankle, I was unable to walk for about a month. I lived in a very central area on the island of Gran Canaria, where all services were close by. I did not have a car since parking is a problem, so I always used public transport. In that month I discovered that people with disabilities must go through various difficult situations because I experienced it firsthand.
I discovered that there are architectural barriers, that is, the streets, nor the buildings are adapted and if they are, there are not very empathetic people who use the reserved spaces for their own benefit, regardless of whether another person may need it.
One of the things that most attracts my attention in Germany, where approximately 8 million people with disabilities live 10% of the population (Mites, 2021), is that people respect these spaces, more people with disabilities are seen in public spaces such as parks, supermarkets, restaurants, etc.
I consider that in Germany these people are more visible and adapted in some aspects than in Spain, where there are approximately 3 million people with disabilities (Inico, 2001), however, I feel that they are concentrated in their own space and do not integrate into the normalized public life or the labor market as in Spain, where there are many job offers in which the government subsidizes wages and gives aid to companies when they hire someone with a disability.
During this time in Germany in my project I met a large number of people with various disabilities, sometimes it is difficult for me to identify their disability, I notice it after getting to know them better, and from my opinion I know that some of these people could have a more autonomous life. I have also met people who have had a normal life, but accidents and illnesses have led them to this situation, and I realize that we can all be people with disabilities and that is why we must show more respect and empathy for them.
Life is full of surprises, experiences and until things happen to us or someone we love, we are not aware of the reality and the great probability that our life can change overnight.
I never imagined working with people with disabilities, it was a group that did not interest me, but now after this experience in Germany, I see a great possibility of working with them, I feel that they are many times more open-minded than people considered normal, they are respectful and loving.
Remember that these people are just like you and me, the world is simply not completely adapted for them.