What Do I Need To Know About Interacting With People Who Have Disabilities?
That question ran through my mind when I was first asked to join the FODAC Board of Directors. It is not uncommon for people to feel uncomfortable talking with people with disabilities. The book, “Just Ask” suggested that some people feel they will say the wrong thing or that the disabled person may be bitter about their disability.
What I’ve learned is that people with disabilities are people, and just like all people, what is important is that you treat them like you treat any other person with respect and look past their disability. Conversations should be about typical topics like home, school, sports, and community events.
I learned quickly when my father became disabled to ask before you help. Even though it might seem like a person is struggling, they might prefer that they complete the task themselves. I also learned that etiquette means that if you are talking to a person in a hospital bed or a wheelchair, you pull up a chair and get to eye level for your conversation. There are a number of good articles online about how to interact with persons with disabilities. Check out this one on Disability Awareness Information. It has a lot of disability etiquette that is a great starting place for tips on how to interact with people who have disabilities. http://www.cpdusu.org/about/committee/awareness/
FODAC Board Member