Being a special education major, I have tried to notice and ask questions about perceptions of disability here in Peru. At first I really did not see that many individuals with disabilities in public. I asked Profe about this and he told me that it was only until recently that families started bringing their children with disabilities out of their houses in public. It could be because of lack of knowledge? Needless to say it wasn't until Pisac that I saw several children all with Downs syndrome coincidently. Then after returning to Cusco I saw a woman and her son with a physical disability on church steps, something Profe also commented was a common custom for begging. Overall at that point in the trip I was surprised by the lack of individuals with disabilities I saw and have many questions such as: Do they go to school? Where are their services? Are the educational opportunities to learn more bout disabilities?
In Lima, I noticed more individuals with disabilities in public. I noticed many individuals with physical disabilities in wheelchairs and individuals who were blind, however not many with intellectual disability. The greatest testament to positive disability inclusivity I saw on this whole trip occurred in Lima, and that was at the Masajes de Braille. Massages de Braille is a massage place that only employs masseuses who are blind. I think this is an incredible positive employment opportunity and a great testament to truly capitalizing on skillset. To be a masseuse, sight is not necessary, all that is necessary is the sense of touch, which is probably enhanced sensory-wise given that these masseuses lack their sense of sight. We all went to get massages at this location and it was a really interesting experience. The masseuses used technology like talking clocks to help them. They really dug deep as the felt parts of my back that needed some help. They worked from my shoulders down to my legs. It almost felt like I was at a chiropractor because they were really good at cracking and shifting my back into place. After all the hiking we recently had been doing at Machu Picchu, this was a much needed readjustment of my whole body. They did an incredible job. All this to say, this was a really interesting employment concept that worked. I’m honestly surprised no one has brought this back to the States yet.
All in all I would definitely need to get more insight into perceptions and treatment of individuals with disabilities here. It seemed better in Lima where there might be more opportunities and education in contrast to Cusco, which is a less urban, more touristy area. I would be interested to delve deeper into special education in the schools here and what services are provided. Unfortunately I don’t have too much more time here to do that but I might do some investigative research on my own based on my observations thus far.