Since 2005, Peter Tan has been actively involved in disability education. He is the Principal Trainer at Peter Tan Training, and specialises in Disability Equality Training (DET).
In conjunction with the Yayasan Sime Darby Arts Festival (YSDAF), Peter will be conducting a workshop on Disability Equality Training during the festival finale this 18 & 19 August 2018 at The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (klpac). Concurrently, he will also be one of two anchor exhibitors alongside his wife, Wuan, to showcase images of environmental barriers he encounters in his daily routines.
What exactly is Disability Equality Training (DET)?
Disability Equality Training is a participatory learning programme that is open to anyone, and is designed to examine the issues faced by disabled people. In each session, participants tackle stereotypes, myths and misconceptions about disability. Individuals who complete the DET are consequently empowered to actively remove barriers imposed on disabled people.
“Once we understand disability, we will be able to change our perspective from seeing impairment as a problem, to seeing barriers as a problem.”
According to Peter, a person’s disability often stems from the barriers society imposes on them, rather than their physical limitations themselves. Using himself as an example, he says that he’s still able to go anywhere freely despite being a wheelchair user – until he encounters unfriendly curbs or stairs, that is.
Peter, who is also a columnist of The Borneo Post, hopes that programmes such as DET will build a society that is more sensitive to the needs of disabled people.
What are the biggest stigmas surrounding disabled people?
According to Peter, the first mindset that requires changing is viewing disabled persons as highly dependent and less valuable, compared to non-disabled persons.
“We are not disabled because we are impaired, but because of other factors [such as] environmental [or] attitudinal barriers.”
There are still a lot of barriers that hinder disabled people from effectively participating in society, Peter says. These barriers – including the inability to attain high-quality education, secure job opportunities, use public facilities, or even shop for groceries – prevent disabled persons from being independent and assimilating into society. As a result, the marginalisation imposed upon them creates a lasting negative impact on their lives.
So, how can society be more sensitive to the needs of disabled persons?
Peter suggests a simple yet uplifting one: get to know more disabled people!
In his experience of conducting DET, he’s noticed that non-disabled persons worry about offending disabled individuals. This results in them not having any confidence when communicating with disabled people.
However, Peter iterates that no special skills are required in interacting with a disabled person. And the sooner non-disabled people can grasp that, the more they can empathise with disabled people.
“Fifteen percent of the world’s population is living with some form of disability. How many friends do you have who are disabled?”
Another easy step you can take is to simply lend a helping hand when you see someone requiring assistance. Peter himself is grateful to the many people who help him whenever they see him struggling in his daily commute to and from work.
“Support has never offended anyone,” he says.
To find out more about Peter and the work he does, visit petertan.com.