5 Things Not To Do When Interacting People With Disability

1. When introducing yourself, don’t do anything that suggests you’re trying to compensate for their disability.

you’re trying to compensate for their disability Yes, I know that you think you’re helping us or making us more comfortable, but there’s a thin line between acknowledgment and patronizing.For example, if they’re in a wheelchair, don’t bend down to meet their gaze. We know you’re in front of us and we’re well aware of the height difference, so there’s no need to accentuate the obvious.Although this might be a matter of personal taste, I dread the moment when people try to shake my hand. I have limited mobility in my hands and my fingers aren’t the most functional things in the world, so handshaking isn’t really my forte.

2. No baby talk or other child-oriented behavior.

I can’t believe I even have to say this, but you should not be talking to adults the way you would talk to small children.Unfortunately, people tend to falsely equate physical disability with cognitive delays and translate that assumption into arbitrary assessments of mental age.This isn’t just obnoxious, it’s insulting.

3. No awkward or invasive personal questions or stories, especially if they’re related to disability.

Let’s try a little role-play: I approach you, introducing myself warmly. As I glance down, I notice that you don’t have a ring on your left hand. Immediately, I ask “Why are you single? Are you divorced?”You’re probably taken aback, disconcerted, and wondering what relevance your marital status has to the conversation. You’re somewhat offended and confused that I jumped to the conclusion that you are divorced.The mood shifts and suddenly you’re just going through the motions, wanting the conversation to end as soon as possible.

4. Don’t make assumptions about our quality of life.

Nothing kills the mood faster in conversation than constantly being reminded of your disability.One of the things able-bodied people seem especially hell-bent on doing is talking about what a good sport you are for existing while disabled.This often devolves into increasingly patronizing generalizations that, no matter how well-intentioned, become backhanded insults that frankly just make disabled people feel bad about themselves.

5. Treat people with disabilities the same as you would treat anyone else.

Ultimately, there’s really no cheat sheet on interacting with disabled people.But don’t despair; this article still has a purpose.Consider this: Disabled people are always people first. Our disability should never be an excuse to patronize us or dehumanize us.You can’t have a manual on how to deal with a certain group of people because that totally distracts from the point that you’re just two people trying to make a connection.