For people who are unsure about how to interact with those of us with disabilities, GET OVER IT! No, wait. I was just being funny while giving a bit of lead way to an inappropriate fantasy of announcing this on live TV. The reality is, whether I like it or not, we are uncomfortable with differences. Many times, people avoid interacting with disabilities because people don’t want to offend us. I must admit, though, avoidance hurts me way more than getting offended. Of course, offending and getting offended are totally messy situations. However, they leave room to repair relationships. With avoidance there are no relationships to repair.
In the spirit of encouraging connections, I offer some advice:
The most important thing is to realize people are more than their disabilities. This means realizing that people with disabilities-no matter what level of disability- have much to offer. We have value. .
Treating adults with disabilities as adults shows respect.
Don’t assume one’s limitations.
Help children with disabilities feel as special as other children.
Offer assistance before assuming help is needed.
When addressing a person with a disability, please address that person and not his or her companions.
Be mindful of service animals. When they are in public, they are working and should not be disturbed.
When communicating with someone with a speech impairment, be patient and don’t assume he or she has a cognitive disability.
It is ok to use words such as “walk” and “see” when speaking with people with disabilities. For example, it is not offensive to tell a person who is blind, “I will see you later.”
When praying for healing within the American culture, it is important to have a relationship with that person. The reason is simple. People with disabilities want to be known not fixed.
Make accessibility a priority in communities. Actions convey respect more than words.
Let me know what you think about these guidelines, ok? For more guidelines, read the booklet, “Disabled Respect” at www.indianadisabilityawareness.org/assets/docs/2017/DisableDisrespectBrochure.pdf