Today I want to talk to you about how not to be awkward around disability, in my case visual impairment. There are many people that do not know how to act around a disabled person, and therefore come across as being very awkward so I’m hoping that this post might help some of you that feel awkward around disability.
Before we get into the post, I’d just like to say that none of this is to cause offence, I have written this post for educational purposes.
- Don’t panic!
Don’t get yourself flustered or be alarmed around a disabled person. Disability is a part of everyday life so it really is nothing to panic about.
2. Never assume
Don’t make statements or have bold ideas about disability, it isn’t black and white. Every disabled person is different, so what works for one disabled person may not work for another.
3. Be open minded
If you have an open mind then you won’t go wrong.
4. Empathise, do not sympathise
Empathy is so important. Understand where a disabled person is coming from, don’t feel sorry for them and act like their disability is going to stop them or change them as a person, because it isn’t. Chances are, sympathy is going to annoy us disabled folk.
5. Put yourself in their shoes
How would you want to be treated if you had a disability? Would you want to be treated different to other people because of your disability? Probably not. Treat the disabled person how you would wand to be treated if you were in their position.
6. Don’t make disability an issue
If a disabled person isn’t fazed by their disability, then you shouldn’t be either.
If they have an issue related to their disability, then chances are they will talk to you or someone they trust, so don’t make it a problem. Disability should never be an issue, it’s a part of life.
7. Don’t underestimate their capabilities
So many people have the perception that disabled people can’t do certain things because of their disability, this is often not the case, disabled people are able to do things just like non-disabled people and may adapt activities to suit their needs.
If a disabled person says that they can do something, then don’t question it, let them get on with it. They have the same capabilities as everyone else.
The amount of people that are surprised that I attended mainstream education, got a degree and now have a job is crazy! My disability doesn’t stop me from achieving these things.
8. Talk to disabled people like you would anyone else
Don’t belittle them, or act like they’re stupid because disabled people really aren’t. Just because a person has a disability, it does not mean that you have to talk to them any differently than you would non-disabled people.
If you can, communicate with them directly, rather than the person they are with. Sure, if you are trying to communicate with a person with a hearing impairment and they use sign language, then don’t try to do it if you have no idea what you’re doing, but in circumstances where you can communicate with a disabled person directly, then do so.
One of the most frustrating things for me as a visually impaired person is when someone talks to a friend or a family member that I’m with, rather than speaking to me directly.
9. Please do not ask stupid questions.
I am all for asking questions and I am always happy to answer people’s questions about my disability as it shows that they are interested or want to learn something, but asking questions like “won’t glasses help” is just stupid…don’t you think that they would have tried that if they were to help? Just think before you ask such questions.
10. Don’t view disabled people as being “inspirational” or “helpless”
Disabled people can live fulfilling, independent lives, just like non-disabled people. Disabled people can live an everyday life – get an education, go to work, be in a relationship, have children or socialise with friends. These sorts of things shouldn’t be seen as inspirational, they are just disabled people living normal lives.
That concludes today’s post, I hope that it has been helpful to some of you.
What advice would you give to people who feel awkward around disability? Let me know in the comments!