Disability etiquette are manners that one should follow while interacting with a person with disability. Various types of disabilities alter the definition of what is normal for the affected person. As a result, members of society are expected to be aware of the needs and feelings of a person with disability.
There are disability etiquette for different types of disabilities. If you follow these etiquette, persons with disabilities will feel comfortable and welcome in your company. However, please note that there is no need to feel stressed while interacting with a disabled person. Disability etiquette are easy to learn and follow. In fact the first etiquette is to be relaxed and not feel awkward in the presence of a person with disability. People with disabilities just want to be treated as normal.
The Basics of Disability Etiquette
There are specific sets of etiquette for different types of disabilities. However, some basic manners should be practiced in the presence of person with any type of disability. There are a lot of disability related cliche and myths. It is also important to be aware of them too.
Speak Directly with the Disabled Person
At times, especially in case of disabled kids, people tend to talk about them with their companion. People sometimes subconsciously assume that a physically disabled person would not even have a sound mind. And thus they seek information about her from their companion, aide or sign language interpreter.
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Persons with disabilities wished to be talked to directly. It would sound rude if you would exclude the people with disabilities from the conversation.
Ask Before You Help
People often offer help to a person with disability even without being asked. It is really good to offer help but it would be better if you first ask whether the person requires any help and if yes, then how. People with disabilities do not like unsolicited attempts to help. In fact such attempts may prove to be counter-productive. Every person with disability develops specific ways to deal with their disability. So, if you wouldn’t know how to help them, you may even cause problem for them!
For example, people on crutches have their specific way to get up if they fall down. Some people can not be just pulled up from ground with force. Even if you manage to pull them up, they may not be able to gain balance and stand. So, just ask them what, if anything, you should do in order to help.
Moreover, disabled women would certainly not like being touched, grabbed and hauled up. So, if you see that a person with disability has fallen down, ask her if she needs help and what you’re supposed to do.
Avoid Touching Crutches, Wheelchair or Cane etc.
Disabled people consider assistive devices as their part. You should avoid touching or playing with these devices just as you would not touch a person’s body.
Be Sensitive while Speaking
It is not a good idea to ask about the disability right after you meet a person with disability. This can make the person feel that you’re focusing more on her disability than her overall personality. It is always better to bring up such personal topics only after a certain level of comfort and closeness is established between you. Also, you should respect if the person with disability does not want to discuss her condition.
ALSO SEE: Use appropriate disability related terms
Do Not Assume
You may think that a person with disability could do a particular activity; but you may be wrong. The other way round is also true. If you assume that the person with disability would not be able to participate in an activity, you might actually be excluding that person from participation.
Let the person decide what she can or can not do. A person with disability is the best judge of their abilities and limitations.
This series of articles will continue as we will publish about etiquette related with specific disability conditions.
We hope this article was useful for you in understanding the basic disability etiquette. Special thanks United Spinal Association for their work on this topic. If you want to suggest anymore etiquette that should be included in this list, please use the comments section to let us know. Thank you for using WeCapable!