Many people know of someone who possesses a disability, whether mental or physical. Too often, individuals tend to act differently in the presence of such persons. This behavior might, in turn, make the person with the disability uncomfortable and upset. Individuals can avoid such social pitfalls by practicing the proper behaviors when they are working with, speaking to, or walking past someone with any form of disability.
Acknowledge The Person First
When speaking with or about someone who has a disability, remember that they are people just like anyone else and should be treated as such. Etiquette experts suggest never referring to someone as a disabled person. Rather, they should be spoken of as persons with disabilities. Regardless of any disability, those possessing such issues are people first and foremost and should always be acknowledged as such.
Do Not Single Out Persons With Disabilities
Many persons with disabilities yearn to be treated like everyone else. Demonstrating proper social tact like holding the door of a public venue for a person with a mobility issue is a noble endeavor that individuals should extend to all persons. However, going overboard or making an issue of the disability might make the individual in question feel uncomfortable.
Avoid Talking Down Or Displaying Condescension
In many instances, persons with disabilities possess above average or superior intelligence. Ergo, such individuals should not be spoken down to or addressed in condescending language. The chances are they are more than capable of hearing and completely understanding someone’s language, tone, and actions.
Do Not Avoid Eye Contact
Those interacting with persons possessing disabilities should always make eye contact with such individuals. Failing to execute such action might convey a sense of uneasiness that may upset the person with a disability. As you would with any other person when holding a conversation with them, eye contact is a form of respect and understanding.
Never Underestimate Capabilities
Many persons with disabilities are far from helpless. These individuals have learned to adjust to their circumstances and might display an uncanny ability to perform numerous tasks. Therefore, one should never underestimate their capabilities. Furthermore, when encountering someone with a disability, proper etiquette suggests asking such an individual if they need help before just giving assistance.
Think Before Speaking
Some people demonstrate a tendency to speak without contemplating the potential ramifications of their words. This pitfall often applies when interacting with persons possessing disabilities. Just as referring to such an individual as a disabled person is inappropriate, using questionable terminologies such as wheelchair-bound or handicapped could also come across as insensitive.