Interacting with People with Disabilities

Overall attitude and approach to persons with disabilities

As you meet people with various physical disabilities, you will likely find that you are apprehensive about how you should behave towards that individual. Every person is different and some will find it easy to work with such individuals, whereas others will find it difficult adjusting to working with people with physical disabilities. People with disabilities are impaired by others’ mistaken beliefs about their disabilities. It’s up to society to ensure disabilities are seen as challenges not burdens.  Always remember a person with a disability is a person. He or she is like anyone else, except for the special limitations of their disability.

The most important thing is to be honest! If you do not understand someone because they have difficulty with their speech, or they use some form of communication aid, please do not assume they do not understand. If you have difficulty understanding them, then admit it, and try to get someone to translate for you. People in such situations will not get upset if you are honest, and in time, you will learn to understand what they are saying to you.

How to help

  • Introduce yourself and offer assistance.
  • Don’t be offended if your help is not needed.
  • Ask how you can help and listen for instructions.
  • Be courteous, but NOT condescending.
  • Assist disabled persons when necessary or requested, but do not discourage their active participation.
  • Allow a person DIGNITY to do what he or she wants to do for him or herself.

Things to remember

  • Treat people as you would like to be treated yourself.
  • People with disabilities are NOT alike and have a wide variety of skills and personalities. We are all individuals.
  • Most people with disabilities are not sick, incompetent, dependent, unintelligent or contagious.

Special thanks to  Community Resources for Independence for this information.