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10 Correct Ways to Interact with People with Disabilities

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It’s no secret a lot of people in the world aren’t comfortable around people with disabilities, despite the fact that 1 in 5 people have some kind of disability (or a “limiting permanent physical condition” for those who can’t refer to themselves as disabled yet). It can take time getting comfortable with the idea of being disabled, and it can take even longer for people to get comfortable around us.

As a person with a disability, interacting with the public can reveal a number of shocking social mores. We can cause immense stress to some people just by rolling into the room, pulling up to the drive-thru or asking for their help in the store. But it’s never too late for people to change.

If you’ve never gotten to know someone with a disability before, or maybe you’re meeting a person with a disability and are worried you might make a fool of yourself, here are 10 must-know tips on interacting with people with disabilities.

1. Avoid the “you’re so inspirational” remarks.

People with disabilities as a whole don’t like being referred to as “inspirational,” especially when they do a basic task like I dunno, go and buy some milk. And this happens all the time. While some people get inspired by us simply living our lives and can’t help it, please try to refrain from sharing your thoughts with us. We are just trying to live our lives like everyone else. Your comment will have the negative effect, reminding us how different people still think we are.

2. Whatever you do, don’t talk louder.

There’s still a large portion of the population that does one of the most offensive things you can do when interacting with someone with a disability – talking louder when speaking to us. Why do they do this even if they know we’re not deaf? They think we’re daft. Lesson to be learned: The presence of a mobility aid does not mean we’re can’t hear or are stupid. Your speaking louder is.

3. Ask before helping.

It may be hard to resist, but automatically helping us without asking first should never be done. We know when to ask for help. Just wait for us to speak up. Even if it seems like we’re too shy to ask, please don’t grab our jacket and help us put it on without asking first. Or assist us when we’re getting into our accessible van. How would you like it if someone barrel-rolled themselves into your personal space? You wouldn’t. The same goes for us.

4. Don’t lean on our wheelchairs.

Something strange happens whenever I go to a crowded standing-room only event  - people love to use me as a convenient object to lean on. They have no idea what they’re doing in some cases, but this is very much something to avoid. From our perspective, it’s one of the most de-humanizing things you can do. You would never do it to someone who is standing, but to us, it’s ok?

And I get it. I used to walk. I know it gets tiring standing for a long time, but leaning on us (or God forbid using us as a footrest) can make you look like the biggest jerk ever. Just remember these five words: We are not rolling furniture.

5. Introduce yourself when speaking with the visually impaired.

I’ve had friends who were blind and one of the most important things you can do when you first meet someone with vision limitations is to introduce yourself. This is something you would normally do anyways, but in the case of someone with vision issues, this should be done right away just to let them know you are near so they can better “see” their surroundings.

6. Stay calm – it’s only a wheelchair.

This saying says so much in a few simple words, and the deeper meaning is something to really take home if you want to better interact with us. Breath, keep calm, there are scarier things in life than us. We are just another ho-hum human, but sitting in a chair on wheels. We’re really not as different as you may think. Really.

7. Refer to us as person first.

Throughout this article, you may have noticed me referring to the disabled population as “people with disabilities.” This is called “person first” language and people with disabilities should always be referred to this way in written-form, and in the thought-process as well. It’s about looking at the human beneath whatever condition we may have. If you can manage to adopt writing and speaking this way, you’re on your way to seeing us before our disability.

8. Save the patronizing for someone else.

Avoiding patronizing remarks also ranks high on the list of how-to better interact with people with disabilities. Anything along the lines of “Good for you,” “You’re so brave,” “Wow I’m impressed” should never be uttered. Just remember, again, we are not that different. Now if we win a few gold Paralympic medals, win an Oscar, or invent a flying wheelchair, you better let those patronizing remarks fly.

9. Talk to us, not whoever is with us.

It can be hard to witness, but when you’re at a restaurant and see someone with an obvious disability, watch how the waiter interacts with them. More often than not they’ll ask whoever they’re with – not them – what they’re ordering, sadly assuming the person’s disability must affect their mental ability too.

This way of thinking still permeates the minds of many and is one of the top offenses to people with disabilities. Always assume they can think just as quickly as you can, and you’ll be good to go.

10. When in doubt, refer to the “Golden Rule.”

And above all, when in doubt over how you should treat us, always refer to the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule is beautifully simple – treat others as you’d like to be treated. Mutual respect. At the end of the day, this is the only tip you need. If everyone referred the Golden Rule in all aspects of life, oh the world, we wouldn’t even recognize it.

Interacting with people with disabilities is only as hard as you make it. Remember the basics above, while always making sure to never forget the importance of basic good human interactions. If you can manage that, you’re officially a cut above the rest, breaking free from antiquated ways of interacting with people with disabilities.

Which other able-bodied/disabled interactions do you think needs some improvement?

More From This Author: 10 Things to Never Say to a Person in a Wheelchair

See Also: 8 Things to Never Say to the Spouse of a Person with a Disability

Related Content: A Life Lesson About People With Disabilities For Parents Everywhere

Photo credit: vintagedept / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

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About Tiffiny Carlson

Tiffiny Carlson is a writer and quadriplegic from Minneapolis. She has a C6 spinal cord injury from a diving accident when she was 14 years old. Writing and breaking stereotypes is her passion. She's been the SCI Life columnist for New Mobility magazine since 2003 and is the founder of the longtime disability site, BeautyAbility.com. Her work has also been featured in Penthouse, Playgirl and Nerve.com. And when she's not writing, Tiffiny loves to cook and practice adaptive yoga.


49 Responses

  1. [...] in a daunting way. This remains evident by terminology often used in the mainstream media to describe someone with a disability, for instance “sufferer” and “victim.” Consequently this outlook can cause a negative [...]

    • avatar Jo Lewis says:

      This article is interesting. While I agree with some of it, i.e., especially #9 on the list, I find that others in general are just being sincere and without any hurt intended so we can take it with a grain of salt.

      I’ve been in a wheelchair for almost 18 years and the biggest thing that grates on my nerves is #9. Not only has this happened to me in restaurants but in other shopping experiences as well. I’ll never forget the first time it happened. I was at a restaurant with my mom when the waiter asked what I would like and I proceeded to jump right in and speak for myself. I did not preach to her but I’m sure the look on my face said I was not pleased. I bet she never did that again – haha!

      However, there have been many times people will graciously offer to open a door for me, etc., even when there is an automatic door opener at the ready. I just shrug it off. They weren’t trying to be overbearing. They were just being polite. Sure, others may be uncomfortable around wheelchairs and not sure how to handle situations but as long as they aren’t forcing themselves on me it’s fine. Every time we’re out in public we don’t have the time, nor should we act like we need, to preach the ethics of interacting with people with disabilities.

      Lastly, I wanted to add one pet peeve of mine I didn’t see covered in this list. If I’m amongst a long line of people, i.e., waiting to get into a movie or something, people ALWAYS think it’s the best route to criss-cross in front of me or cut me off, as if I’m just an inanimate object and not a person. People invariably end up stepping on the foot rests of the chair and/or rocking the chair back and forth while passing by me. Grrrrrr!

  2. avatar Melody Flynn says:

    This seems a little hostile to me and I am a person with a disability (Multiple Sclerosis). I do agree that people should have a better understanding of how to interact with anybody different from themselves (and I mean different in any sort of way) but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have compassion for their intended acts of kindness. I’d much rather have somebody try to help me than to totally ignore me because they don’t know how to act around me and are afraid they will offend me in some way. I feel educating people on what it means to be a person with a disability would be much better received. For example I hate when people assume I am not disabled and make comments about me parking in a special parking space or using a mobile cart at the grocery store. Not all disabilities are visible but we can’t assume people know this without letting them know…..and compassion is something people need more of….on both sides.

    • avatar Marie says:

      I agree, that it seems hostile. If someone says I am inspirational, I say thank you from my chair. They truly do think I am, or anyone in a chair. Several have told me they were able to get through something, because what I endure is more than their problem for the moment. I love it when someone comes along and says, “Let me put that chair in the car for you.” They feel good about helping and it saves my energy for the next thing I want to take on. At first, I was going to share this list with a former teacher who leads a class on diversity, but I am not, as it is a bit too strong-minded. Kindness works on both sides, accepting it always.
      I do agree about leaning on the wheelchair. More so, someone behind me who keeps tapping my wheel with a foot, liking the rhythm their foot is making, I guess, as they watch what is in front of us. I am filled with pain, so each tap shoots added pain to my body.

  3. avatar Mark says:

    Thank you for this article. It puts into words a lot of what I and the people I counsel are feeling.

  4. This is so Awesome, I’m not a quad but both of my legs where burned off and 5 fingures, hey I am what I am…. I love life cherish it in anyway, so yea Thanks for this message.

  5. avatar Mackenzie says:

    I agree with you completely. The things you listed that apply to me (Wheelchair user) are some of my biggest pet peeves. Especially the leaning on my chair and the talking to who I’m with instead of me directly.

  6. avatar A.C. says:

    The points are good but it does feel rather hostile. I am thankful for those that squat down to my level to visit. I get very frustrated with people [even disabled] that park on the striped lines reducing the space for my ramp to extend. I’ve been trapped several times. Van accessible means nothing to most people. I think it should also say ramp or lift required. People tell me I’m inspirational and I hope I can inspire people. If I can make a difference. YEAH

    • avatar PAH says:

      I write direct (but friendly) notes and put them on the windshield. “Please be aware that parking your car on the striped lines prevents a wheelchair user from lowering the ramp on their van–so a person either can’t park in this designated spot, or they can’t get back in their vehicle (until you move your car) because their ramp doesn’t have room to go down.” I’ve also written notes explaining that these spots are for VANS WITH RAMPS, not cars that don’t need extra room for their doors to open.

      • avatar Ashley says:

        Are you suggesting that wheelchair users who don’t have vehicles with ramps don’t need the extra space next to their car? Because that’s completely untrue. I use a manual chair and if I don’t have space next to the driver’s side to assemble my chair, there is no way for me to enter or exit my car either. If you’re just referring to people with other kinds of disabilities who use those spots, I would tend to agree, but even someone who uses a walker needs space next to their car to safely enter and exit.

        • avatar MomtoBethany says:

          Those spaces should be reserved for people that use any type of mobility equipment. None of the other spaces allow room for my daughter’s chair, much less for another person to squeeze in and give her the assistance she needs. Not everyone is lucky enough enough to have a ramp, or lift, but we still need the extra space!

  7. avatar Steve says:

    I love this, but would like to challenge the person-first language. For me, and others that I know, being Disabled is more than the fact that I use a wheelchair. The ways that I interact with the world, the ways that the world interacts with me, and lens that develops from these dynamics and through which I see society all culminate to become also a social identity. As such, I want a label for that communicates an identity, not a condition. Not a person with a disability (a condition), but a (capital D) Disabled person (an identity).

  8. avatar Joan Schmitz says:

    I’ve been in a wheelchair for 12 years now (due to a drunk driver) and a couple of my biggest pet peeves is:
    1. If your child is brave enough to come and ask me what happen LET THEM!!! They will grow up not seeing a wheelchair person but just a person.
    2. DON’T STARE!
    3. If you ask me if I need help and I thank you but decline, DON’T force your help on me. Most of the time it causes problems for me, not them.

  9. avatar Jane Brooks says:

    I hate the talking loud thing. My son is not deaf or hard of hearing but is sensitive to loud voices so loud is not good. Or talking baby talk to my 16 year old son. WTH Or saying ‘GOOD JOB’ over and over and over and over. Does anyone stand over typical peers and yell out good job constantly. Especially when you are in high school. I could go on but I wont Oh and GOOD JOB on the list. LOL just teasing ya

  10. avatar Blaine Cameron says:

    I can’t understand why anybody thinks this article is hostile in the least. The author presents compelling and logical reasoning as to why certain, seemingly nice, behaviour is inappropriate. For instance, the “your so inspiring” remarks not only remind us of how differently we are perceived, but it can also give us the sense that getting depressed or having a bad is shameful, were supposed to be ‘inspirational’ after all. Our state of being gets boxed within artificial boundaries which can hurt us, preventing us from feeling out life with the wide spectrum of human emotions necessary for navigation.

    • avatar Melody Flynn says:

      I just don’t see how being told by others that I’m an inspiration to them or by them trying to help me is a bad thing. I like setting an example as somebody who can have a positive attitude no matter what life throws at me. I understand that there are annoying or awkward situations outlined by the author but I don’t blame others for not knowing any better. And she makes some very good points, especially #10, which is basically what I’m trying to say. I’ve had lots of strangers offer help to me and a lot of times I’ve needed it and I appreciate it tremendously. If I don’t need their help, I just say thanks but I’ve got it under control. But I do it with a smile knowing they just want to be nice.

      • avatar Lori says:

        The reason I hate being told I am inspirational is because all I am doing is living my life the only way I know how. In my eyes I am not doing anything special

  11. avatar Katie says:

    I love this list. I have a mobility impairment, and many of these items resonate with me.

    However, I would like to point out that number nine should apply to people with all types of disabilities. The way it is worded it seems to imply that not talking directly to someone with a developmental disability would be fine, and it’s not. I doubt that’s what you intended in the writing, but it sounds that way.

    I think it’s always important to treat people as people, regardless of their disability. So even if an individual with a disability requires an attendant or translator for communication, we should still address ourselves to the individual (unless the question is for the attendant or translator…like what THEY’D like to drink :) ).

  12. avatar Katie says:

    Not all Disabled people like person-first language. I’m Autistic and I find person-first language offensive because autism can’t be separated from me. I’m not a person with femaleness or a person with Americanness, so why would I be a person with autism? I’m Autistic. Large portions of the Autistic Community, as well as the Blind and Deaf Communities agree. In some ways it is othering and stigmatizing to use person-first because it doesn’t follow normal grammatical rules, is only used when the “thing” a person “has” is considered bad (which reinforces the idea that disability is bad), and communicates that a person and their disability are somehow able to be separated from each other.

    • avatar Tara says:

      Some people with learning disabilities ( I’m coming from being parent of child with Down syndrome) believe that while the chromosome is literally in every single cell of their being, that is only a part of who they are it creates some differences but more like you then not. being autistic, deaf, phisically disabled or having DS does not define your personality or likes and dislikes. The perception that it does has driven the person first language movement. Too many people see children with DS as all lovely happy, unable to…x much like me saying all autistic people have no warmth, cannot smile, or make eye contact..both incorrect and based on underdeveloped bits of knowledge…what ‘people first’ language does is suggest that, while the condition will inevitably shape the person in some way, it is not the only thing that does. The person is more important that the condition. An idea just occured..I guess it depends. I think that maybe if a person’s disabiliity is invisible you are more likely to want people to understand and respect the condition and see its importance in your life so stress the ‘I am autistic, deaf etc.. please understand what that means to me and respect who i am’ where as if it is visible, like DS or physical, you don’t want the crucial first impression to be one that is partially formed mainly on misconceptions.. you want them to think person first..THEN see how it affects you and respect etc. maybe..

  13. avatar Jen Z says:

    Being inspirational is about the only gift I can give my friends. Please don’t take that away from me.

  14. I love the list, and it’s not hostile, maybe just a little frustrated? I can certainly empathize, and I am not living with quadriplegia. I used a wheelchair for 13 years due to painful arthritis, but it’s in remission and the chair is in the garage. I still have multiple disabilities, but my disabilities are not ME – they are just something I live with. for people who object to 1st-person language, maybe think of it in relation to other issues. I have a seizure disorder that is not epilepsy, so I am not going to say ‘I’m seizured”, nor am I going to say “I’m Gross-Motor Dysfunctioned”, even though those are two of my 5 disabilities. It’s much better to separate ourselves from our disabilities – just think how’d you refer to yourself if there was a cure for whatever you’ve got. Then who would you be? One of my friends who is living with cancer and fighting to stay alive, says she’s living with cancer, but surely wouldn’t say she IS ‘cancered’!

    As for being inspirational or heroic, it’s so condescending – people who say that are basically saying that they can’t imagine how you stand to be you and still go on to do anything, like have a life. Ugh!

  15. avatar Sandy says:

    Deaf people don’t like #2 ( when they don’t read lips or understand oral speech) to be talked loudly to either. Just a thought…hearing or not it’s rude!

  16. avatar John says:

    Having Cerebral Palsy, I was upset to read this paper. I think there is only one rule, when connecting with people with a disability, treat them as NORMAL. I am disgusted to see this was not even listed in the top 10.

    I now as the author to write me a paper on the ’10 correct ways to interact with people that are normal’.

  17. avatar Frustrated by Self righteousness says:

    If We are unable to take a sincere compliment without turning it bitter or twisting it into an insult which it obviously is not meant to be how can we ever expect others in the world to be at ease in interacting with us you’ve just scared away every person who THOUGHT they were being kind to us! You tout that you want to be treated as a person which to me and most of my differently abled friends usually means we want to be treated the same as everyone else why make it even more about me me me, not all of us are offended by being told in the right way that we are inspirational to others who struggle to deal with mundane issues in fact you’re the first i have known to be hostile towards it

  18. avatar PAH says:

    What this list boils down to is being sensitive and aware of others. While some people may be offended by offers of help, others may be too timid to ask for assistance–these are simply personality differences that transcend mobility issues, gender, race, etc. Those who make inappropriate comments are often awkward and insecure–they want to be compassionate but often don’t have the personal experiences to know what the ‘right’ thing is to say; instead, they make assumptions (that the person’s mental abilities are correlated to their physical abilities). Most of this list applies to dealing with all people: respect their personal space; offer help if someone is clearly struggling; make eye contact; be genuine; be aware of someone’s limitations (whether they are using a wheelchair, or they are short and trying to reach a top shelf, or elderly and confused, or not a native speaker). Treat people with respect–and see them as people–not as their disability, or their sexual orientation, or their race.

  19. In general, this is a nice piece. I understand the intent of the information, but I feel it is flawed in many respects. I take exception to much of the content, which I will explain here.
    First, the statistic of disability prevalence is cited as 1:5. Okay, I have seen that figure, among many others, so I will not argue the number. However, the author goes on to define disability as “limiting permanent physical condition”. Now, I have a problem. If the prevalence of “limiting permanent physical conditions” were actually 1:5, the prevalence of all disabilities would be significantly greater. Thus, the author appears to exaggerate, or, perhaps, has “tunnel vision” when it comes to disabilities.
    Now, onto the ten ways to interact;
    1. Inspiration- open your eyes and face it, you are “inspirational” to some people. Accept this! The inspiration the individual is voicing is the fear of someday being in your shoes and feeling unable to do what you clearly can do. Rather than take offense to the comment, try thanking the person and adding that you don’t feel inspirational, just doing what need be done to live your daily life. Taking the opportunity to educate someone, rather than scorn them, may help open their eyes to the fact that disability need not define a person.

    2. Talking louder- the author states clearly in the piece that her “interacting with the public can reveal a number of shocking social mores”. In spite of this recognition, she condemns society for having these mores. One such norm that is widely observed and has great moral significance is people’s belief that they need to speak louder, regardless of the disability in question. The author alludes to this happening “even if they know we are not deaf.” That says to me that the author is not addressing the volume of the speaker’s voice. As, if she did, most people would tone it down. Perhaps a more appropriate response, rather than getting offended would be to build in the person some understanding about the disabilities she presents and how they differ from others, including the deaf community.

    3. Ask before helping- I guess I should cease holding the door for the next patron entering or leaving the establishment behind me. Another societal more is courtesy to others. What makes offering to assist you due to the presence of a disability any different from offering to help the next person, who does not have a “limiting permanent physical condition’? If the offer for assistance is not wanted, as people without disabilities sometimes rebuke, decline the offer and move on.

    4. Leaning on wheelchairs- I cannot argue this point. It is inappropriate. However, the scenario presented does beg the following; people do lean on other people in crowded situations. This is not limited to wheelchairs. However, both are inappropriate.

    5. Introducing self- “I’ve had friends who were blind and one of the most important things you can do when you first meet someone with vision limitations is to introduce yourself.” What does a visual impairment have to do with this? When you first meet ANYONE, you should introduce yourself! You should also re-introduce yourself as you approach anyone and you are out of their visual field.
    6. “It’s only a wheelchair”- why is the wheelchair the factor that the author believes is the source of trepidation? Do not those who are mentally ill, have Down syndrome or a host of other visible disabilities, yet not in a wheelchair, get the same demonstrable look of fear of the unknown? Perhaps the onlookers fear the author’s appearance and the wheelchair is a non-issue.
    7- Person first- I will not expound here my problem with this. I have spoken to this issue in a number of forums. Suffice it to say, I see this as unnecessary. Be comfortable with who you are and others will see your value, regardless of whether you are disabled, a person with disabilities, have a “limiting permanent physical condition” or perhaps even are temporarily able-bodied.
    8. Patronizing- Really? Do you truly believe when someone from the general public voices their belief that you are doing something impressive, that their intent is to patronize? Patronization is doing/saying something with the intent to demean or demonstrate their superiority. Most people who say these types of things truly believe you are doing something fantastic. Assuming there is any belittling, without evidence thereto, is rude and unnecessary. It paints you as unapproachable. This, in turn, reinforces the belief that your disability, rather than social behavior, is causing others to stay away.
    9. Talk to us- ” Always assume they can think just as quickly as you can,…” Okay, everybody ignore the centuries of training that the general public has endured and continues to endure from “experts”, clergy, parents and the media about disabilities. You are now educated about disabilities and know, from this sole author, that all you have heard is wrong. Yes, I am being sarcastic. But reality is, people have learned to speak to the companion first, just as many wait staff speak to the male in the party first. Just one of those Social Mores.
    When someone approaches and speaks to your companion and your companion doesn’t respond with, “Why don’t you ask her?”; and, you don’t speak up, is the person initiating the contact truly to blame?
    10. Golden rule- You can’t even find use of the Golden Rule in the general public. People do the least necessary to get a paycheck, customer service is non-existent, if you don’t kill, someone else will kill you, etc. are beliefs that permeate today’s culture. I challenge you to find ten people who demonstrate, through their actions, that they understand and follow the “Golden Rule”. That includes those with “limiting permanent physical conditions”.
    I read many behaviors the author expects of others. I see no culpability being attributed to herself. We live in a social network of human life. Granted, direct contact is decreasing as people use social media and other indirect contact methods over direct, face to face contact. Regardless; people with disabilities cannot and must not dissolve themselves of responsibility in social interaction. If you expect others to make all the changes and effort, you will further alienate yourself and the disabled community.

    • avatar Ashley says:

      1. What you suggest is exactly how I respond to people who call me “inspirational”. However, I do not appreciate it when a person who knows nothing about me, what caused my disability, or how I go about my daily life feels the need to interrupt my day to tell me all about how I’ve made THEM feel. It usually comes across as selfish and insensitive, because they’re simply assigning the term “inspirational” to anyone they see out in public doing any sort of mundane task. For all they know, I could be the complete opposite of inspirational. In my opinion, simply living with a disability does NOT make a person inspirational. The things that do (my outlook on life, the way I approach challenges, the obstacles I may have overcome) are not things that strangers know about me in the 10 seconds it takes them to stop me and tell me how inspirational I am. When people I meet and interact with or become friends with tell me that, I don’t take any offense – I take it as a compliment and am gratified that I have been a positive and meaningful influence in their life.

      3. There is a difference between offering assistance that you would offer to anyone because it’s polite, and offering assistance with the assumption that the person can’t do the task themselves. That’s the distinction I make when I find myself getting irritated with excessive offers of help.I would not be offended if someone held the door open for me. I would be offended if someone tried to help me pull my sweatshirt over my head, or put on my shoes. If I did need help with those things, I would ask for it. Normal polite interaction does not include that kind of unsolicited assistance. It’s the same kind of help that one gives to a child who hasn’t quite mastered the task on their own yet. No, thank you. I’m an adult.

      8. This is incredibly patronizing. I completely agree with the author. That doesn’t mean that I’m rude to people when they do it, and that’s not what the author is suggesting. She’s encouraging people NOT to say those things in the first place, so that those of us who are offended by them aren’t encouraged to “turn people off by our disability” as you suggest. For example, I regularly am approached in bars or other social drinking situations by people who “think I’m awesome” and then ask to take a PHOTO WITH ME. What purpose does that serve, other than for them to point out to people that they met a girl in a wheelchair who was living like everyone else? It makes me feel even less like everyone else, because you don’t see that person approaching other strangers who they think are “awesome” and asking them to take photos with them. I never want to be rude to those people, and I am always accommodating, but inside I just want to have fun with my friends and be treated like any other person in the bar. I don’t want to be a spectacle, and when people say things like “good for you for being out” it is really just a selfish way for them to express how good I’ve made THEM feel. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t spend every waking moment thinking about how inspiring I am to everyone else. I think about the same things that everyone else does.

      9. Just because this is a “social more” that has been “learned” doesn’t mean it’s OK, and doesn’t mean that the author shouldn’t be discouraging it. It infuriates me when people talk to my friends instead of me, ABOUT ME. I’m a person as much as anyone else, and would like to be treated as such. My friends are great about speaking up and saying, “Why don’t you ask her?” as you suggest, but they shouldn’t have to. Just because people have been learning things for years doesn’t make it right. Take any other kind of discrimination as an example. If someone doesn’t speak up, it just continues. I agree that it’s up to us to deal with this in individual situations, but if someone can learn from this article that they shouldn’t speak to the companion instead of the person they actually want to talk to, I think that is progress.

      10. The author is trying to make a larger impact with this article than the impact that we can each make in our day to day lives. I completely agree that those of us with disabilities have a responsibility to educate people, but I see nothing wrong with attempting to do it on a larger scale as well. The author doesn’t need to “attribute culpability to herself” when the point of this article is to educate OTHERS about disabilities. The way people interact with those with disabilities shouldn’t be contingent on whether that person with a disability is acting in a way that they expect. The fact is, most people don’t have any clue what to expect, and we are not responsible for living in a way that makes everyone else around us comfortable and happy. Do you shout at someone if they don’t hold the door open for you and it closes in your face so that they can learn that is the correct social behavior? Likely, you don’t. You probably think silently to yourself that it would have been nice if they had held the door open, or wonder why they never learned basic social manners, but it’s not your responsibility to teach an adult in every interaction when they do something wrong. The same applies for people with disabilities. I try to educate when I can, but I also have a life too and am not going to dedicate time every single time I go out of the house to teaching other people how they should interact with me so that they can feel comfortable. The author is simply trying to do this for us so we can get on with our lives.

  20. [...] More Lists: 10 Correct Ways to Interact with People with Disabilities [...]

  21. avatar T says:

    Well now I’m just thoroughly confused. (after reading the comments I will just walk by and shut up). I have ms but its visually bad enough for anyone to see too much, so I’m not really familiar with living with a disability. It seems that everyone who is disabled is just like me different and individual. After reading the comments I have no clue as to how to act or help or not help offend or not offend! I guess I will ignore, not look and walk on by instead of offering assistance (as I appreciate when someone does for me on an average day) as I now have no idea if Im going to ruin someones day. I get the leaning on a chair thing, thats obvious, or speaking to the other person, but not knowing to help or what not to say is too much.

  22. Problem is usually, Concerning simply migrated to WordPress. On the other hand, I’ve got a number of people who’ve got subscribed to great nourishes with great tumblr site. Exactly what should i can in order that they will at this moment have posts with great WordPress site?.. FYI, I’ve got some feedburner consideration..

  23. [...] into the store – do you ask right away if they need help? Or would that be considered rude? Does etiquette dictate you wait until we ask you? If it’s a store environment, it’s totally ok for employees to approach us and ask if [...]

  24. [...] comes into the store – do you ask right away if they need help? Or would that be considered rude? Does etiquette dictate you wait until we ask you? If it’s a store environment, it’s totally ok for employees to approach us and ask if we need [...]

  25. [...] may think you’re fragile and won’t want to hurt your feelings. Many will want to reward you for breathing or for being inspirational and they’ll accept whatever you give them without expectation of a [...]

  26. [...] when we’re doing it and get defensive when it’s pointed out to us. From simple things such as not speaking directly to us, leaving us out of decisions that directly affect our lives and perpetuating the message that those [...]

  27. [...] See Also: 10 Correct Ways to Interact with People with Disabilities [...]

  28. [...] example, when hitting on someone in a wheelchair, don’t say “Hey hot wheels” or blurt out, “Can I have a ride?” Talk about anything but [...]

  29. [...] Tiffiny Carlson, ‘10 Correct Ways to Interact with People with Disabilities‘ – don’t miss readers’ comments! Share this:TwitterFacebookGoogleLike [...]

  30. [...] Tiffiny Carlson, ‘10 Correct Ways to Interact with People with Disabilities‘ – don’t miss readers’ [...]

  31. [...] Tiffiny Carlson, ‘10 Correct Ways‘ – don’t miss readers’ [...]

  32. [...] I am going to introduce you to those I love the most in this world; my children and my husband. I often have people say how sorry they feel for me. Certainly some could say I have had my fair share of trials, but I say I have been well [...]

  33. [...] 10 Correct Ways to Interact with People with Disabilities [...]

  34. [...] 10 Correct Ways to Interact With People With Disabilities [...]

  35. [...] who are unsure of how to interact with people who have disabilities will also find these tips can apply and should take note of the section titled “Twenty Rules for [...]

  36. avatar Shane Freeman says:

    Very helpful! Thanks for the education!

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