People who are members of the disabled community can feel as though they are being patronized to or discriminated against. People might be doing or saying things that are hurting a member of the disabled community and not even be fully aware of it. Here are some tips for making sure that you are supporting disability awareness.
1. Don't Treat a Disabled Adult As You Would a Child
The rules about touching adults, in general, are very different than the rules about touching children. Many people will use their hands to guide children through doors or to get their attention. Sometimes, people perform the same actions with people who are in wheelchairs or are otherwise disabled. This is extremely offensive because many members of the disabled community find it patronizing. You can avoid this by simply doing everything that you can to treat a person who is in a wheelchair like an adult. If you aren't sure that you are acting appropriately or if an action is going to offend or not, ask yourself if you would be offended if someone did that to you. If your answer is yes, then don't perform the action.
2. Speak Directly to the Disabled Person
If a person is using an interpreter, it can be tempting for you to speak to the interpreter, rather than the person who is trying to communicate with you. Focus on making eye contact and leaning towards the person with whom you actually want to communicate and attempt to ignore the interpreter if at all possible. This will allow you to make sure that you are treating the disabled person with the respect that you would afford any other adult/
3. Put Yourself at Eye Level When Communicating With a Person in a Wheelchair
If you need to have a conversation with a person who is in a wheelchair, sit down across from them. Do not make them look up at you in order to communicate with you. This will allow both you and the person with whom you are trying to communicate feel more at ease.
4. Don't Insist on Helping
If you think that there is something that you could do to help, offer your assistance. If that offer is declined for whatever reason, be sure that you accept it and don't insist on helping. People with disabilities know exactly what they are able to do physically and don't need you to help them or tell them otherwise.
For more information, talk to a company that specializes in disability support (such as Performance Plus Rehabilitative Care Inc).