PEOPLE living with disabilities need to be accepted and viewed as contributors to society rather than being mocked, abused and shunned.
This is the message of Rakesh Chand, a visually impaired advocate for the wider social acceptance of people living with disabilities.
Speaking at the launch of the 2013 Western Division White Cane awareness program on Saturday, Mr Chand said people living with disabilities had to overcome personal and external barriers that prevented them from living normal lives.
"The mentality that disabled people should be kept at home and out of the way should be a thing of the past because we can contribute in meaningful ways," he said.
Citing examples from his youth, Mr Chand said because of verbal abuse and being constantly mocked, he used to travel to the city only on Sunday.
"I would only go to town on Sundays for an outing because it was quieter, it was less likely that people would trip over my cane and there were fewer chances of being sworn at or made fun of."
The Westpac Bank employee said because of the way society treated the visually impaired and blind, many were reluctant to venture out of their homes or use mobility equipment in public.
"Because of the stigma and attitude of the general public, blind people are shy or ashamed of using the white cane because they don't want to be identified as different from everybody else," he said.
"They basically deprive themselves of the right to move around freely.
"We should be able to do this and be a part of society instead of being shunned."