Sunday, December 6, 2009

AT Module #4

It is sometimes difficult to know how to commmunicate with people with disabilities without feeling awkward. For a period of time I drove a blind social worker around to her appointments and I learned a lot from that experience. People would sometimes try to address me instead of her, like if we were ordering at a fast food restaurant. She said, "I'm blind, not deaf!" She helped me understand that it was ok if I sometimes did not use the politically correct terminology (like saying "visually impaired" instead of "blind") She was not sensitive because she knew I was being respectful. I think that is the key--just acting natural and treating a disabled person like they were anyone else, and through your interactions you will gradually learn how to communicate better.

I think another key reaction mentioned in the module is to always ask them if they need help instead of assuming it. One of my coworkers with a walking impairment fell one day and another coworker tried to assist him. He protested against any kind of help very vehemently. It is a natural reaction for most of us to want to help, but many disabled people have worked hard to reach their level of independence and don't want to "regress".


  1. people with disabilities ARE people first...

  2. We could also add that children are people first. I think too often we will talk about children and talk about people with disabilities as if they were not right there next to us listening and being affected by everything we say. Unfortunately an organization whose goal it is to help children with disabilities and their families did not have the initial meeting set up well. I ended up having to mention my son's challenges as he sat and listened. That did not go well at all as you can imagine. Who wants to sit for almost two hours listening to their mom talk about all the challenges you are facing. Fortunately when we were going to look at a new school for him, I realized it was better for my husband and me to go look at the school initially ourselves and then take him to see the school the next day. That way he did not have to sit through another meeting with me talking about him and his challenges. Also then his first impression of the new school was not one of us talking about him with the teachers.