Sights of the Disability Community

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Hello fellow followers,

So this posting I want to talk about things I have seen related to the disability community. If you don’t already know – I work with a non-profit in Wisconsin called the Wisconsin Youth Leadership Forum, Inc. It is a group that works specifically with students that have disabilities – teaching leadership skills, independent living, and job/school resources. 

My biggest interest about being here in Thailand was to involve myself with the disabled community here in Thailand. – I have yet to find those opportunities and not sure how to seek them out yet. In the Meantime let me express what I have learned about the visible disability community. (visible are disabilities that can be seen – while invisible disabilities are ones that don’t have a physical appearance.) Let me say this – I do not by any means mean to offend anyone with a disability and I by no means am diagnosing anyone with a disability, these are purely my observations based on my knowledge. 

Upon first arrival I noticed many individuals who used mobile devices – wheel chairs scooters, as a matter of fact, His Majesty the King in his elder years is using a school to alleviate the stress of walking. H.M. the King has been ill for some time and thus uses a few devices to make life easier, not to say he is not strong – (Please keep in mind that the King is highly revered and I have much respect for his position and his work within the Kingdom of Thailand.) 

After noticing mobile devices the next thing I looked for was deaf culture – which also did not take long – while walking to the grocery store I noticed to men who were using hand jestures – and I realized that they were both in fact using Thai Sign Language. In the United States we have what is called American Sign language a set of very specific movements used to convey information between Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing individuals or hearing individuals. I did further research and found an online sign language dictionary through Kasethart University here in Bangkok that explained Thai Sign Language – the Alphabet and some common words and phrases. 

Interestingly enough I was on the Tourist area called Khao San Road (Thanon Khao San – ถนนข้าวสาร) and was approached by a man who was deaf selling temporary tattoos – you know the ones that use to come in Bazooka bubble gum wrappers kind of an old novelty now. I tried to communicate with my limited American Sign Language hoping that he would understand – but probably not. I think even he was surprised that I knew sign language. Interesting. 

Finally, I was again at the grocery store when I say a young student – if I had to guess I would say he was diagnosed with a mental disability – as to which I don’t know but I would guess maybe down syndrome. this young child seemed to be very happy and politely smiled at me when I strolled past smiling. 

I love it when people smile and are nice to you on the street. :)