Autoethnography: Changes in My Perception of Disability from being a Practitioner to a Disability Studies Student

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Shah, Khushboo
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According to the United Nations, health is a fundamental right of all individuals. It has been studied that people with disabilities have higher needs for healthcare as compared to people without disabilities. As of 2021, India reports having 26.8 million people with a disability of some form. With the increasing number of populations with disabilities, there is an increased need for healthcare professionals that can cater to the disability requirements of these individuals. However, there is a huge gap in terms of health services offered to disabled and non-disabled people in India. This autoethnographic study describes my disability perception as shaped through my childhood with having a refractive disorder to becoming a physician and finally taking the Disability Studies Master’s Program. Through personal experience of medical practice as a healthcare professional, I have observed barriers to full utilization of healthcare services by people with disabilities varying from inaccessible infrastructure and diagnostic equipment, the stereotypical approach of healthcare providers or their ignorance, lack of training to communicate with people with disabilities, inaccessible transport to reach the health facilities and massive expense of treatment/rehabilitation. With the growing population of people with disabilities, it is inevitable to have disability sensitization and education of the medical staff to provide inclusive healthcare services to people with disabilities. Medical students must be thoroughly trained with disability competencies and have high clinical exposure to people with disabilities so that effective health care can be provided by young doctors without propagating stigma and by instilling hope. Pragmatic changes must be adopted at the level of governance to reduce discrimination towards people with disabilities while accessing healthcare through the alteration of state policies and the creation of public awareness.
Autoethnography, Changes in Perception, Disability Studies