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Tips for Better Communication with People with Disabilities

When you first meet a person with a disability, it’s appropriate to hold out your hand to offer a handshake. If they can’t shake your hand, they’ll tell you. Be prepared that they might offer you their left hand instead.

If you are speaking with a person accompanied by a caregiver or interpreter, always speak directly to the person. Don’t speak about them to the attendant as if they aren’t there.

When speaking about people with disabilities, focus on the person. Describe them as students, parents, business owners, or athletes. Focus on their achievements and personal qualities, not their disabilities.

On the other hand, don’t be afraid to use common expressions such as “see you later” or “I have to run.” Most people with disabilities use these phrases and won’t be offended if you do as well.

Except in rare instances or you know the person extremely well, never touch a person with a disability. Some might have balance issues and a simple touch might cause them to fall. In other cases, your touch could trigger a muscle spasm.

The same does not touch rule applies to wheelchairs, assistive devices such as canes or crutches, and service animals. If you have a need to move a device out of the way, ask first.

Best Answers

  • KingndedaKingndeda ke ✭✭✭
    Answer ✓

    I would rather ask if someone with disability needs help first instead of being to quick to offer assistance. Some might accept as well as others might decline. Some people with disabilities are also independent depending on the context that's their disabilities is within

  • BKiwuBKiwu ke ✭✭✭
    Answer ✓

    Being a wheelchair user, I can totally relate to this. Sometimes people push you without asking thinking that we get tired of pushing ourselves. Sometimes when someone pushes me they push so slow yet am in a hurry to get somewhere. The hardest encounter however was when a deaf person tried to push me and it caught me unaware. I didn't see the person coming and she did not sign to ask whether I needed help. She thought I was stuck yet I was just relaxing by bringing my wheelchair to a stop. After pushing the wheelchair so hard to the point of almost falling, she gave up and went away. Communication is important before offering to assist someone.

  • verogakioverogakio ke ✭✭✭
    edited 26. Jan 2022 Answer ✓

    Great comments @Kingndeda @BKiwu

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