How many of us get uncomfortable when we come across someone who is disabled or differently abled?
We either feel sorry for them and assume that they are bitter about their disabilities or are afraid to say the wrong thing. This is not true! Differently abled people are enriched by their experiences with their disabilities and are well-versed in dealing with their condition.
What we should do is respect the person and look at them beyond their disability!
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) is promoted every year on December 3rd by United Nations to create awareness and support critical issues relating to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in society. Theme for this year is “Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities.”Differently abled people face many barriers to inclusion in many key aspects of society. Let us do our bit and try to make them feel included in our lives.
- Globally, over 1 billion people, about 15% of the world’s population, are living with disabilities
- Between 110 million and 190 million adults have significant difficulties in functioning.
Helping the Disabled: Follow these general rules
In whichever way you assist them, make sure that the disabled people have control over the services they get and the support they need.
- Treat differently abled people as equals. Don’t be afraid to approach.
- Do not assume they need help in everything. Ask if they need your assistance.
- Never make disability the basis for their every action.
- Never stare and make them feel conscious about their disability
- Respect their privacy. Ask their permission to discuss the disability
Varying disabilities: Figure out ways to assist
Read on specific ways to behave an help when you come across people with various types of disability:
1. Helping someone who is visually impaired:
- Take the name of person whom you are addressing in a group conversation
- Describe the surroundings if necessary
- Offer to read written information if permissible
- Do not pet, play, feed, or talk to a guide dog when it’s helping its master
- Approach and offer help if the person looks disoriented
- Offer your arm as opposed to taking his as it will help him retain his balance
2. Helping someone who is in a wheelchair:
- Do not handle or sit on their wheelchair
- Feel comfortable to kneel or sit down to get on their level and make eye contact during conversations
- Rearrange objects in a workplace to accommodate mobility aids
- Include physical obstacles such as stairs while giving directions
3. Helping someone who uses crutches:
- Do not assume they are struggling and ask before you offer help
- Avoid handling their equipment and respect them by respecting their aids
- Do not get embarrassed to offer them help when they accidentally fall down
4. Helping someone with speech impairment
- Be patient and do not interrupt them while they speak
- Allow enough time to communicate if they are slow.
- Ask them to repeat if don’t understand and if you are not sure what is being said, repeat it to them for verification
5. Helping someone with hearing impairment
- Speak slowly and clearly without raising your voice. They can read lips
- Attract the individual’s attention before speaking
- Make eye contact with them and not their sign language interpreter
- Write notes if communication is not working
6. Helping someone with learning impairment
- Repeat information, use simple language; listen actively and do not get impatient
- Provide one piece of information at a time
- Provide information in a written or spoken format as desired by them
- Give them their space and let them focus in quiet if required
Did you know?
Rates of disability are increasing due to population aging which increases in chronic health conditions, among other causes. Co-morbid conditions, age-related conditions, engaging in health risk behaviors and higher rates of premature death are experienced in people with disability.
- WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION. ACCESSED DEC 10, 2015.
- INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY. ACCESSED DEC 9, 2015.
- UNITED NATIONS ENABLE. ACCESSED DEC 8, 2015.