A Guide to Interacting With People with Disabilities

Have you ever seen someone with a disability and felt nervous about interacting with them? It might be an irrational fear, but it can make you behave oddly or rudely.

Believe it or not, you aren’t the only one! Many people find it difficult to interact with disabled people because they don’t want to offend them with their words or actions. It's pretty normal to feel that way, but how about you give this narrative a needed change?

Body language speaks volumes

One of the worst things you can do around disabled people is stare at them or their body. This can be pretty annoying and downright offensive in some cases. It would be best to always look at them in the triangle of the face; eyes, nose, and a little bit of mouth.

You should maintain healthy eye contact and not look below the mouth, especially if you are in a professional setting, this will make them comfortable around you and make them feel comfortable enough to have further interaction.  

Avoid the personal questions

It’s rude to ask them how it happened? People with disabilities are more than their injuries or limitations. They’re complete humans. Asking them personal questions about their disability will put them off you, even if you do it politely or with good intent.

A man is sitting with a disabled woman.

Read up on their disability

Now, if they ever mention their disability, make time to read up about the details. This will enlighten you with the kind of challenges they face. This is mainly for those you have to interact with daily: teachers, colleagues, and friends.

Offer assistance

Since you’ve built a relationship with them, you know their struggles. Therefore, you should offer help without making a big deal out of it. However, it would be best not to go overboard but do what is expected and asked.

Respect their assistive or mobility devices

A disabled person’s mobility device is part of their personal space, and you should not invade it. Respect their mobility devices and don’t try to make any changes. Since these individuals have strong feelings about their wheelchairs, you should not touch them without their permission.

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