It’s no secret that interacting with a disabled person often becomes a vexing experience. People, who have never exchanged communication with a physically or mentally challenged individual, consider it a daunting feat. The dread of getting misunderstood or inadvertently becoming offensive creates a barrier to open and healthy communication.
However, the remedy doesn’t lie in ignoring them since they share equal rights of being included in every activity. Just as every institution proposes a dedicated code of conduct to leverage discipline and harmony, there are some norms and etiquettes to follow with the disabled community too. This penciled narration serves as the ultimate guide to interacting with people with disabilities. Without any further delay, let’s move forward.
The Secrets to Bonding with the Disabled
We have touched on the most favorable options to help you kick start a harmonic conversation and relation with mentally or physically challenged individuals.
Acknowledge Them, Greet Them and Make Them Feel A Part Of The Space!
The golden rule, show respect above everything else!
Consider them human, like all others. Greet them with a gleaming smile as you stop by in their vicinity. Shake hands, even if the person uses an artificial limb. Left-hand shake can also work over here.
Acknowledge them as “normal.” Treat them the same way you want to be treated. Avoid talking to them figuratively. Be yourself while communicating, and avoid mimicking the sympathetic soul.
Make them socially comfortable by embracing the disability etiquette while exchanging or sharing information.
Consider Disabled Survivors, Not Victims!
They have already nailed in dealing and surviving with their disability, which indeed makes them survivors. For the same reason, stop victimizing disabled individuals in results some people may consult with Disabilities employment services.
Don’t refer to people with disabilities as “cerebral palsy victims” or “spinal cord injury victims.” This labeling shakes the person’s confidence to the core and steals his power to outperform.
Respect Their Mobility Equipment Since They Consider Them Their Personal Space!
The physically challenged individuals rely on some external mobility equipment, including but not limited to a cane, a wheelchair, and so on. They treat these gadgets as part of their personal space and discourage others from touching or using them without their consent.
Since the disabled individuals’ life revolves around these assistive gadgets, mistreating their equipment leaves a harsh imprint on their psychology. For instance, if you lean on their wheelchair, they will feel like you are leaning on their shoulders.
The safe bet is to steer clear of touching or counting on their personal assistance.
Don’t Interrupt — Let Them Finish First!
Just as we don’t like interruptions in our conversation, disabled individuals demand the same. What you need to do is to let them speak first while being all ears to them.
If they face difficulty while speaking, show patience and don’t rush towards ending the conversation. The rule of thumb is to ask closed-ended questions that call for precise answers and nod as they speak.
Don’t pretend that you are going through hard times while understanding their speech. To save them from embarrassment, question them on the part which you have already understood. Their response will help you decode the unattended conversation.
Don’t Assume They Need Your Help Unless Asked For!
Unless you are asked for help, don’t assume that they need your assistance. Disabled people often mind if someone tries to invade their privacy and provide unwanted help.
If you sense that they are in need of help, you can ask them about it. However, don’t ask them repetitively to validate your question.
Adjust Your Response With Their Individual Demands!
Disabilities vary. Some people have physical disabilities that are visible, while some have a cognitive-based disability that is untraceable in the very first place.
The different segregation of disabilities requires different treatment. A mentally disabled individual might seem odd in reacting, to which your response must be empathic and person-oriented.
For instance, you may want to verbally communicate with an individual while the person needs written communication. This may happen if he or she has some learning disability.
The safest of all approaches is to patiently respond in a way that comes easy to their understanding and cognition.
The Focus Of Your Eyes Must Be The Person, Not The Environment!
If the person is wheelchair-bound, you must adjust your sitting to communicate with them at a balanced height. Standing tall while communicating will instill an untold feeling of inferiority complex in the person living with a disability.
Relying on a chair to make eye level is better than kneeling.
Some people avoid making eye contact with disabled individuals to intentionally prevent disrespect that may show up from their gestures, speech, or facial expressions. However, the impact turns out to be totally one-eighty. Their avoidance fosters a feeling of intimidation, mockery, and being left out.
Be Careful with your Words — They Must Not Sound Offensive!
Avoid using words like “wheelchair-bound,” “disabled people,” “handicapped,” “retarded” or “crippled.” These terms come as offensive remarks to people with disabilities.
The word bound may sound as if the person is tied to the chair. Instead, you may use “wheelchair accessible” to refer to the individuals relying on wheelchairs for their movements.
If you are not sure of what to use, use the phrase “people with disability.” This will save you from being patronizing at all.
Don’t pour your sympathy in the funnel of words. Don’t pity them by saying that “I am so sorry for hearing what happened to you,” or “Alas, it must have been so tragic for you.”
Be authentic in the conversation, and speak to them like one of your friends who is completely fit in all aspects of health.
Bottom Line for Disabled person:
It will be easy to communicate with people with disabilities if we consider them human and normal. Disability care services own this etiquette so religiously.
Surely, the world witnesses harmony when every individual is weighed in the same balance and treated equally, irrespective of ability, race, gender, ethnicity, and other significant differences.