If you love someone with a disability you may think of them as just another normal individual. But sometimes, even when you love someone with a disability, you’re not always sure how to help them make it through the day and get to where they are trying to get to. If you employ someone with a disability, or you are friends with them or trying to provide them with services (at the market or another venue, for example) it may be even more difficult to empathise with them and understand what they are going through. While it is difficult to imagine what an individual living with a disability is going through, pondering on their suffering won’t help you get any closer to helping them live their life to the fullest, love with all their heart, work efficiently, or make the best use of your services. In fact, too much concern may put you in quite the opposite place, where you alienate those individuals who are attempting to use your services or work for you. So how do you avoid the pitfalls when you’ve never had a disability and you don’t know what to do? Here are some of the best ways you can help those individuals in your life, or your business, who are living with a disability to reach their fullest potential, no matter what their relationship to you.
- Talk to them like you talk to anyone else. One of the most important things you can do to help a disabled individual is to talk to them just like you would speak with any other person. The truth is that disabled individuals are not any less competent, creative, intelligent, or capable than any other person. They simply do, and sometimes understand, things in a different manner than other people. Too often, individuals with disabilities, especially mental conditions that become disabling, are treated like children, and this only serves to exacerbate their problems.
- Ask the individual what it is you can do to help them. Never offer help to an individual with a disability unless you have asked them if they need help. Not everyone with a disability needs help lifting 20 pounds, but some do. If you see someone struggling, ask if you can help them, but don’t simply step in and help.
- Never stare at individuals who have a disability. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different types of disabilities, and some of them can be eye-catching, but it’s rude to stare. Just like mother taught you when you were young. Staring makes individuals with disabilities feel uncomfortable.
- Be willing to make the necessary accommodations for those who have disabilities. One of the best ways that you can serve those around you with disabilities is to be aware of disabilities that are common and make the necessary accommodations. This includes elevators, wheelchair access ramps, and wide doorways where possible. If you have an employee who needs accommodations, attempt to make every accommodation possible to help them do their jobs more efficiently.
- Don’t give individuals with disabilities pity. People who have disabilities do not want your pity. They want to be treated as equals. Don’t make accommodations for individuals who don’t want those accommodations. That is an insult. Do not force them to sit in special locations, and do not share their information with others unless given permission to do so.
While it may seem difficult to think on interacting with, working with, managing, or loving a person with a disability, it’s really very simple. Treat them as you would any other person, and give them the respect they deserve.