Sometimes it takes a traumatic experience to open our eyes. We take many things for granted and though most of us would say we empathize with people with disabilities the truth is we don’t really know what it’s like. Take for instance BBC broadcaster Andrew Marr.
A Scottish journalist and political commentator, Marr hosts the BBC’s Radio 4’s Start of the Week Monday morning discussion program.
Marr is a well-respected journalist who was named columnist of the year in 1995 by the British Press Awards and has received two British Academy of Television Awards. However, when Marr recently suffered a stroke his feelings towards people with disabilities changed.
Marr told The Guardian newspaper, “You definitely see the world differently. You’re much more aware of all the people around us who have got really, really difficult disabilities who are looking after their parents, perhaps and who frankly, most of the time, like most people, I simply didn’t see them”.
Following his stroke this past January Marr has had to use a cane to retain his balance and the experience has opened his eyes to the struggles people with disabilities face. “I wasn’t thinking about them,” Marr told The Guardian, “That has changed. I do see them now. I do think about it.”
It’s unfortunate that Marr had to suffer a near-death experience to become aware of what millions of people live with everyday. However, unless it is a sensational story or involves a celebrity the attention of most people is difficult to grab. In Britain, though, the charity Scope has launched a campaign in which it encourages the public to take photos featuring the words “I Care”. The goal is to raise awareness about people living with disabilities as the British government considers cutting over 28 million pounds from support for disabled people.
Workers for the campaign often use the slogan, “Support the disabled and sick now because one day that might be you”. Hopefully, the stature of Marr’s position and his influence via his radio show will encourage more people to take the time to understand the needs of people living with disabilities.