Tag Archives: ask

Communication Awareness

The first step to respectfully communicate with a person with a disAbility is simply by making an effort. There’s no absolute formula for compassion, but putting forth the effort — any effort, really — goes miles.

Recognize there are trigger words that often carry a deep connotation of disrespect and disregard for a magnitude of communities. Titles like “cripple,” “retard,” “slow” and “vegetable” carry vulgar consequence, but conversations surrounding people who have disAbilities deserve a deeper level of understanding than simply avoiding a handful of hurtful words.

These people are humans, not disAbilities.

Build, Don’t Box
Common tongue often highlights a person’s disAbilities like the elephant in the room. A more active approach is to acknowledge and applaud one’s abilities. Focus on the person, not the disAbility. And, just like any of us, we each have our challenges but we don’t go around telling people we “suffer from” one thing or the other. This language would steal any sort of confidence that we might overcome our daily hurdles.

Furthermore, it’s crucial to recognize individuals. For example: Jane is Jane/John is John. S/He is not one of “the handicapped,” “the paraplegics” or any other all-inclusive term. S/He is one, able individual who has paraplegia. The condition does not define her/him, and though s/he may be proud and affiliated with communities who engage paraplegia, it’s best to allow s/he the opportunity to define those relations.

Never Stop Learning
Simply put: Don’t be afraid to ask. If you’re concerned you don’t know how to interact with people with disAbilities, voicing your innocent naivety may be the wisest approach. Instead of shying away from the conversation and further alienating that person, seek out a respectful opportunity to ask about his or her story.

Increase Your Awareness On DisAbilities

Anyone, at any time, could acquire a disAbility. We see, read and hear about it almost every day. So, we must educate ourselves and learn what those with disAbilities need us to understand:

  • DisAbilities affect many lives and most people do their best to enjoy their lives. No need to feel sorry.
  • Don’t refer to the person as a disAbled person or handicapped, a better term to use is person with a disAbility.
  • Just seeing the disAbility is wrong. They are people with different abilities.
    · The person will always be who they are. What they like, feel, care about and know is not defined by the their challenges.
    · We each have different frames of mind. Interact with the person, not the disAbility.
  • Parking spaces are valuable. Using an accessible space when you don’t need it is highly frowned upon.
  • Don’t push or touch a wheelchair unless you ask first. Some people may take offense of you trying to help, others may be grateful.
  • Always respect personal space.
  • Don’t ask a person in a wheelchair to hold things for you.
  • When speaking at length with someone in a wheelchair, if available grab a seat or kneel down so you are on the same level and can hear you better.
  • Always talking about the disAbility or referring to it is annoying and uncomfortable.
    · DisAbilities should not always be the topic of discussion.
    · You don’t have to be scared, or feel you have to know the “right” thing to say. Being honest and real is enough.
  • Although some may be physically constrained, that doesn’t mean they don’t have something to contribute, or ways in which they can be involved.
    · Being involved and a part of everyday, regular life is important.
    · Just because a person looks or appears like they don’t understand, doesn’t mean they don’t.
  • Think before you speak and act.

 Simply understanding and seeking further knowledge about things you are not sure of is key. People with disAbilities want to  and should be treated as equals. This is why broadening everyone’s knowledge on disabilities is important. NMEDA’s awareness campaign, National Mobility Awareness Month (in May), helps show folks that seniors and people with disAbilities can live active, mobile lifestyles – a need we understand. We hope to educate people on different disAbilities and, in turn, hope that more people will become aware and spread the knowledge.