Bill Porter was born with cerebral palsy. He decided to succeed in life despite his physical disability. Getting a job was not easy. People would not look beyond his disability. He persisted and got the job of a sales man with Watkins Company. Convincing the customers was even a greater challenge. He was ridiculed, doors were slammed on him but he did not give up. His only support was his mother. Every day she would write two words – patience and persistence – on his lunch pack. When a tired and frustrated Bill opened his lunch box, these two words gave him the strength to carry on, which he did. After the first sale, there was no looking back for Bill. He went on and on and won the best salesman award of his company year after year. I would invite all to watch the film ‘Door to Door’ that is made on the inspirational life story of Bill Porter.
Bill’s story reminds us once again that if we have a desire to achieve something, nothing can stop us, not even a physical condition such as cerebral palsy.
I thought of sharing the story of Bill in this post as 3rd December is the United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Around 15% of the world’s population has some kind of disability. It is time to do some reflection.
What should be our attitude towards persons with disabilities?
I would first invite you to watch this video.
Science and technology has made tremendous progress and developed tools/gadgets that make life easy for people with disability. What has not changed much is the attitude of society towards persons with disability. It is not moving beyond offering help, sympathy and some limited action. We have made separate toilets and separate parking slots for physically challenged persons. But is that enough? Separate toilets in workplaces do not ensure employment for people they are meant for.
Let me ask a question: what is the difference between a person who uses a wheel chair and a person who uses spectacles due to diminishing eye sight? Both depend on external devices but the one on wheel chair is seen as ‘disabled’ whereas the one using spectacles is ‘normal’.
The perception of disability needs to change. We need to look at the ability, not disability.
Employers, in particular, must keep in mind that having a disability does not reduce a person’s ability to work. If you look just at the apparent disability, you may be losing the opportunity to hire your best worker.