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Culturally Aware: Chinese Americans’ Views on Disability Essay

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Updated: Feb 10th, 2022

Introduction

Cultural peculiarities of people determine their views and behaviors. For instance, attitudes towards disability differ across the globe. American society is characterized by a significant degree of cultural diversity, so people residing in the country may have different opinions regarding the matter. Chinese Americans respect and care about people with disabilities, but, at the same time, they do not find the development of an inclusive environment necessary.

A disability may also be viewed as a punishment and a barrier to reaching the major objectives in a person’s life. The evaluation of the attitudes of this population unveiled some gaps in my knowledge. I need to learn more about Asian Americans, as well as other groups, in order to become an effective counselor. This self-assessment helped me understand that I can become a life-long learner in this area as I am open to new knowledge and communication with diverse populations.

Culturally diverse societies are becoming a norm in many parts of the world. The USA is regarded as the melting pot where people of different cultural backgrounds learn how to interact effectively. However, even in the American society, such negative phenomena as discrimination, injustice, and isolation occur (Chun et al., 2018). Counselors need to understand the needs of all groups in order to assist people in addressing the challenges they face effectively. It has been acknowledged that disability is viewed differently in various cultures. This paper dwells upon the attitudes of Chinese Americans towards disability (and visual impairment, in particular) and major implications for a counselor, as well as some personal reflection on the matter.

Incidence of Visual Impairment and Diversity Within the Target Population

Prior to considering the perspectives of the Chinese concerning disability, it is useful to examine the incidence of this health issue among Asian people and some of its peculiarities. According to Nangia et al. (2018), the major causes of vision loss are age-related, and the prevalence of individuals with visual impairment among Asians has been decreasing since the 1990s. It has been estimated that over 30% of the overall number of visually impaired people lived in South Asia (Nangia et al., 2018). However, visual impairment, similarly to any other type of disability, affects diverse groups of people.

People have to address numerous issues related to the way they are seen in the society, as well as the way they see themselves. Gudlavalleti (2018) found that females with visual impairment had quite particular concerns regarding their health (especially such areas as reproductive health). Many persons with visual impairment feel vulnerable and reluctant to become more active in their social lives. Age, health conditions, and other characteristics influence the attitude of these individuals towards disability and people with disabilities.

Apart from the age of people with visual impairment, it is necessary to consider such characteristics as gender, socioeconomic status, sexuality, and education among others. Female immigrants who are visually impaired address various challenges related to their health status as well as other aspects of their life (Hansen et al., 2017). These women have to address numerous economic, cultural, and social barriers to employment or other types of social activity. They are often stigmatized, which affects their mental health and their readiness and willingness to be socially active.

Cultural differences of subgroups of Asians also have an impact on their views regarding disability. For instance, Malaysians tend to have an overall negative attitude towards people with disabilities (Jing, 2019). Whereas, Chinese people do not have a highly negative perspective as to persons with a disability, but try to show respect and provide care (Zhang & Rosen, 2018). Religious beliefs and philosophies have an effect on people’s views regarding the matter as well (Zhang & Rosen, 2018). Obviously, counselors need to understand these peculiarities and be able to develop specific strategies to cope with particular issues and concerns.

Chinese People’s Attitudes Towards Disability

As mentioned above, Chinese people have a respectful attitude towards persons with disability. The majority of Chinese people have been raised within the scope of Confucian philosophy, which led to the development of a specific opinion concerning disability (Zhang & Rosen, 2018). One of the central values of the Chinese is virtue, so it is expected that the strong will always help those in need (including people with disability).

This attitude, however, has a dark side as well because people with disability are passive receivers of care (Zhang & Rosen, 2018). Inclusive environments and the empowerment of such people are not priorities, so these areas hardly receive significant attention in the region as well as Asian communities. The counselor will need to educate Asian Americans with visual impairment about their right to live in an inclusive society.

Another aspect of the Confucian philosophy that shapes people’s viewpoints related to disability is associated with the concept of a superior man. All Chinese people should strive to become a superior person, but disabled individuals can never achieve this objective because becoming a superior man presupposes having “first of all a ‘normal’ and healthy body” (Zhang & Rosen, 2018, p. 4). Therefore, counselors have to pay specific attention to this cultural peculiarity and ensure that people who are visually impaired could feel empowered and able to become a superior person.

Finally, the attitude towards disability is shaped by Confucian beliefs regarding the origins of certain physical states. In the majority of cases, any disability is seen as a punishment, so negative attitudes may emerge (Zhang & Rosen, 2018). People may be discriminated against individuals with disability based on the belief that this position is moral. People who are visually impaired may place blame on themselves and alienate themselves from the rest. The counselor has to address these aspects as well and try to change the perspective of their clients. Of course, it is important to remember that such views may be intermingled with other beliefs based on numerous characteristics of a specific person.

Reflection on My Cultural Awareness

In order to evaluate my awareness of certain peculiarities of different groups, I completed the self-awareness multicultural rating scale. This assessment suggests that I understand various peculiarities of diverse populations. Importantly, I am open to new knowledge through research and the dialogues with the representatives of different groups, which is critical for raising one’s awareness. The self-assessment also assisted in identifying the existing gaps and areas to concentrate on.

The choice of the population to discuss in the paper is determined by my desire to fulfill the gap in my knowledge. I feel my awareness of the peculiarities of this cultural group is quite limited. The implemented research was instrumental in enriching my knowledge, but I still need to learn more about this population. Since I am ready and willing to communicate with the representatives of any social and cultural groups and committed to continuing research, I will be able to understand such individuals better.

Another important finding based on this self-assessment is linked to the peculiarity of the modern world. People with disability often pertain to different social groups based on their age, gender, education, ethnicity, religious beliefs, and socioeconomic status. A combination of these characteristics shapes the way people see their health status or the health conditions of others. I need to improve my knowledge related to this domain in order to provide assistance to those who need counseling.

Conclusion

On balance, Chinese Americans have a specific view regarding disability. On the one hand, they respect such people and provide care. On the other hand, they can have negative attitudes towards these people and hardly ever try to empower them. People with disabilities also have similar views concerning their own health status. At the same time, the target population is not homogenous as a person with visual impairment can be a middle-class female in her early twenties who was raised in the USA. The needs of this person are likely to differ from the needs of an elderly client with visual impairment who spent their adolescent years in an Asian country.

This assignment helped me understand the level of my preparedness to assist people pertaining to different groups. I am aware of numerous characteristics of certain populations, and I am open to new information. However, I need to learn more about major ethnic groups as well as certain subgroups within this population. Counseling people with visual impairment requires an understanding of various aspects of their cultural and social background.

References

Chun, J., Pi, S., Lee, E. J., & Park, J. (2018). . Work, 60(2), 281-294. Web.

Gudlavalleti, V. S. M. (2018). . International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(11), 2366-2377. Web.

Hansen, S., Wilton, R. D., & Newbold, K. B. (2017). ‘. Disability & Society, 32(8), 1121-1141. Web.

Jing, C. C. (2019). Malaysians’ attitudes toward people with disabilities. Journal of Arts & Social Sciences, 2(2), 27-65.

Nangia, V., Jonas, J. B., George, R., Lingam, V., Ellwein, L., Cicinelli, M. V., Das, A., Flaxman, S. R., Keeffe, J. E., Limburg, H., Naidoo, K., Pesudovs, K., Silvester, A. J., Tahhan, N., Taylor, H. R., Wong, T. Y., & Bourne, R. R. A. (2018). . British Journal of Ophthalmology, 103(7), 871-877. Web.

Zhang, Y., & Rosen, S. (2018). . Educational Philosophy and Theory, 50(12), 1113-1123. Web.

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