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How To Get Along With People with Disabilities.

by Frederick Akinola
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A person with a disability is anyone with a physical or mental condition that substantially limits at least one major life activity. People with disability should not be treated like every other person. They might have functional needs but it doesn’t make them different from able-bodied people. The following are what you can do to get along with the disabled, and also be able to assist them without irritating them or making them feel inferior.

Good Communication Skills

Make sure you use the right terms when discussing people with disabilities. Certain terms that were once considered the norm are now outdated and even offensive. When speaking about someone with a disability, it’s often polite to place their personhood before their specific condition. For example, do not say a mentally ill person or the mentally ill. Instead say, a person who has a mental illness. Refrain from using terms that will make the person feel ashamed. Call them by their names, and treat them like every other person.

Be Respectful in Your Words and Actions

When interacting with someone with a disability, always be respectful in both your words and action. Do not speak to them in ways that belittle them. Try to have the person’s disability in mind. Do not make them seem like they need special treatment. This often irritates them. Allow them to do things they can actually do. It is okay to do things to make communication easier. For example, if interacting with someone who is hard of hearing, make sure to look directly at them so they can read your lips and follow other visual cues. Sitting down to make eye contact with someone in a wheelchair can be a polite gesture.

Ask Before Providing Assistance

If you see people with disabilities struggling with something, your first instinct may be to jump in and help. However, without knowing that person’s specific needs or intentions you may be doing more harm than good. Always ask before offering your assistance. If you see someone with a disability struggling, simply say Would you like any help? or Do you need assistance? You do not have to say any more than this. If someone declines your offer of assistance, do not be offended or insist on helping. Simply go on with your day. They know their needs better than you do, and pushing them would come off as rude.

You need to be patient. When you are patient with them you will understand them better. Treat them with dignity and respect. Remember that they have feelings like you.

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