Hi friends. Let’s be real. Even if you have the best of intentions, it’s possible to get it wrong when trying to help someone with a disability. So… Here are a few “don’ts” to help you navigate through a world consisting of differently-abled people.
Don’t disqualify my beauty.
People think that if you have a disability, you shouldn’t associate yourself with anything to do with beauty. I honestly think that in many people’s perception, disability means “ugly” or “unattractive”. Of course, it’s ridiculous. Who said being disabled disqualifies you from being beautiful? Whether a disability is visible or invisible, people with disabilities can be fabulously attractive on so many levels.
Don’t call me ‘brave’.
If you know me well enough, you know that I hate when people marvel at me, saying I must be “brave” or “inspiring” – just because I am out shopping on my own. “You must be so brave.” I find this phrase very patronizing. Don’t say this to me unless I have wrestled a tiger or a crocodile, or done something extraordinary – like fly to the moon and back. I really don’t see how I can be inspiring by getting on with life.
Don’t assume that all disabled people look the same.
I wish people would stop thinking that the world is made up of purely able-bodied individuals, and that the tiny minority who are disabled are easily recognizable. Broaden what you believe in. We don’t all look the same – just as able-bodied people don’t.
Don’t use baby-talk.
When I was younger, it was irritating when people talked to me as if I was a child or I wasn’t able to hear them. Or what about my friend who wears hearing aids. People suddenly think they need to revert to loud, slow baby-talk for my hearing-impaired friend to understand them. It’s okay. We really understand and hear you well at your regular volume and adult speech pattern!
I hope this blog helps you to understand some of the many “don’ts” that differently-abled people would prefer you just avoided.