The power of perception

In a world fuelled by news flashes, Twitter feeds, and ‘byte’-sized information, little time and opportunity are left to create your own point of view without the full picture. Social media and other streaming services are driven by algorithms that identify your likes and push content to you that is in line with these. In an age of information, overload systems like this are important but at what cost.

Did you know - more than 500 hours of video were uploaded to YouTube every minute (YouTube)

The Oxford Dictionary defines perception as “the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.” Or “the way in which something is regarded, understood, or interpreted.”

It is with these definitions in mind that we should be taking a step back and wondering if we are living our lives with blinkers on. Are we living in a society that is molded by artificial or algorithmic perceptions?

In the past, the topics of disability the like were spoken of in whispered conversation or as a superficial attempt at inclusion by those in power.

When I decided to study teaching, my mother was against it as she thought that I would be putting myself in a position of vulnerability and this would lead to teasing and humiliation. However, I saw a different side of the coin. I was good at teaching concepts, had great amounts of patience, and had an opportunity to change the perception of People With Disabilities (PWD).

Years later I can say that I have done this not only for children but with adults as well. Teaching does not have to be restricted to the classroom and I believe PWD have the power to break the norm, shake society and re-shape the perceptions of disability in general.

I know I am not the only one with these thoughts and feelings as organisations, movements, and government initiatives are doing their part to forge a path ahead.

The seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were drawn up by the United Nations (UN) in 2015 are interlinked global goals to ensure a better future for everyone. PWD are mentioned eleven times!

The Valuable 500 is a global initiative established in January of 2019 that aims to engage with multi-national companies and make disability a focus on their leadership agenda. In May of this year (2021) they reached their target but announced that this was only the beginning as they are now ready to enter phase 2 of their strategy: co-creating ideas with these companies that will initiate large-scale and fundamental system changes.

Did you know – Brands Google, Apple and Virgin pledged their support to The Valuable 500. (The Valuable 500)

WeThe15 is a global publicity campaign that was launched on 19 August this year, five days before this year’s Paralympics. The purpose of the campaign is to increase the visibility of disabilities to promote accessibility and inclusion and to decrease the stigma attached to disability in general.

Did you know – The very first ‘paralympic’ games were called the Stoke Mandeville Games, were held in 1948 and were created for the Word War Two veterans with spinal cord injuries. (

Yes, our perceptions are influenced by artificial intelligence, but we have to be aware of this and create our own perceptions. Disability does not have to be a topic to be discussed with hushed tones but rather one that we speak out and move society forward together.

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