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.