What PWD Really Means?

Have you ever tried asking your friends or random people if they knew what “PWD” means? When we did a survey, many young adults responded that this acronym means “password” or “pwede”. Others correctly answered that PWD means “person with disabilities.” We then asked them how they define PWDs. What do they imagine when they see or hear that word? Most of them answered that these are people are either in wheelchairs or just completely blind. But what about the deaf, mute and those with physical deformities or intellectual handicaps, are they PWDs? Before we define who they are, it is best suited to answer this first:

People on the autism spectrum might look normal upon first impression
Some disabilities are not visible at first. (Photo from CC Search)

What does “disability” mean?

Under the Philippine law, disability means “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more psychological, physiological or anatomical function of an individual or activities of such individual…” It is a broad definition but not everyone can be immediately classified as PWD. Applicants for PWD ID are required to submit a clinical abstract signed by a licensed physician.

“Impairment”, “Disability”,and “Handicapped”

Most of the time, these terms are interchangeably used on a daily basis. These terms, however, are of different meanings and applications. “Impairment” is any loss or deformity of physiological, psychological, and anatomical function or structure while “disability” is the lack of ability to perform an activity of an individual. “Handicapped” is the disadvantage that limits the individual from performing a certain task.

Who are the Persons with Disabilities (PWD)?

According the Philippine law, under Republic Act (R.A) no. 7277 or the Magna Carta for the Disabled Persons, persons with disabilities or PWDs are

“those suffering from restriction or different abilities, as a result of a mental, physical or sensory impairment, to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal.”

This includes people who are deaf, mute, blind, epileptic, physical malformation, mentally challenged, and affected by stroke or other serious medical condition. People who have experienced stroke or heart attack are sometimes considered as PWDs too, at least to some extent.  The next time you see someone park at PWD slot even though he looks normal – think twice. Some impairments are not immediately obvious. One way to easily identify our PWD friends is through their PWD IDs.

Different Disabilities Requires Different Needs

An aid to one type of disability may not be effective for other types.  For the visually impaired, guide dogs and audio announcements on public utility vehicles is one way to help them in everyday life. While for those who are physically impaired, a specialized transport system or mode of transportation should be made available for their mobility. For those who are deaf and mute, a sign language translator should be provided on television programs. Road assistance is also a must since car horns or other audio warnings will not be viable.

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