Don’t Do This

A younger man sitting in a wheelchair at his desk pointing at a computer screen. - 7/09/2019

If you’ve never gotten to know someone with a disability you may wonder how to interact. The short answer is “normal,” but there are a few things that some witty people with disabilities say you should not do. The following tips are shared in a humorous style, yet couldn't be of more serious intent.

Five Things to Avoid When Interacting with Someone Who Has a Disability:

1. Avoid the “you’re such an inspiration” remarks. Your comment could have a negative effect, as if saying people with disabilities are different from everyone else when they are just making their way through life like everyone else.

2. Whatever you do, don’t speak loudly to everyone with a disability. Just because a person uses a mobility aid does not mean he or she can’t hear.

3. Don’t barge into someone’s personal space. Avoid grabbing personal items or assuming a person wants help when getting into an accessible vehicle. Ask first, "Can I help you with that?" Remember, people with disabilities enjoy their independence just as you do. 

4. Don’t lean on wheelchairs. People with disabilities are not rolling furniture. Don’t use mobility devices as props.

5. Don’t just stand there. Introduce yourself. One of the most important things you can do when you first meet someone with vision limitations is to introduce yourself to help them better “see” their surroundings.

Hundreds of people with disabilities live and work around the globe. They interact daily with co-workers and customers. Meet a few of them at GCE.org > Successes.