There are many ways to help people with disabilities; however, we have to be aware that there are also ways we can hinder, rather than help. Negative attitudes pose a significant barrier to their inclusion and career advancement.  Hence, we should ensure that we do our best that people with disabilities have the same self-esteem, performance, and job satisfaction as anybody else.


I’ll take you through some disability etiquette. It may be long, but I believe it’ll help ensure that you’re on top of the best language and practice to use when supporting someone living with a disability.


General rules for helping all people with disabilities

  1. Always treat people with disabilities (PWD) as equals. They should be no exception to having friends, fun, and experience.
  2. Always ask before you help. PWDs have varying levels of independence that should be respected. Always ask to be sure your help is welcomed.
  3. Never assume someone does or does not have a disability. Sometimes, people with disabilities may act, feel, or think differently than you.
  4. Do not stare. You are certainly allowed to look, but do not stare at a person with a disability.
  5. Respect and understand confidentiality. Always ask permission to discuss the disability before you do it. They are not obligated to tell you.


How to support a person who is visually impaired or blind

  1. NEVER pet, play, feed, or talk to a guide dog when working. Guide dogs are trained to act, behave, and guide people with visual impairments in specific ways. If you are unsure if a guide dog is working, ASK the owner first. Do not distract a service dog away from his essential duties, no matter how cute they are!
  2. If a visually impaired person looks disoriented, you may approach them and ask if they would like assistance. However, leave them alone if they insist that they are ok and do not want help.
  3. If a person grants your help, offer him your arm, do not take his. People with visual impairments depend on their arms for balance. Therefore, you should always offer your arm as opposed to grabbing his.
  4. Always identify yourself or others when engaging with a visually impaired person. It is essential to be verbal when spending time with a visually impaired person. This will make the person feel much more comfortable when receiving your help.
  5. Be verbal. Always give verbal cues. Let a person with a visual impairment know if any hazardous objects/situations are approaching.


How to help a person who walks with crutches

  1. Always ask the person if they need help before helping them.
  2. Never touch a person’s equipment. Whether crutches, a wheelchair, a white cane, or a guide dog, it is in your best interest to avoid handling equipment that belongs to someone with a disability.
  3. If you witness a person fall, ask before you help him.


How to help a person in a wheelchair

  1. Never lean, push, or sit on a person’s wheelchair.
  2. Feel free to get on her level. Feel free to do it if it makes you feel comfortable to kneel or sit down to be at eye level with a person in a wheelchair.
  3. Keep ramps and accessible walkways clear. Think before you park your bike car or place objects on walkways without steps or ramps.


How to help a person with a social disability

  1. Respect a person’s personal space. It is better to ask first.
  2. If a person with a social disability seems upset, feel free to give her some words of encouragement.


How to help someone who is deaf or has hearing loss

  1. Speak clearly.
  2. Always make eye contact with the person, not his sign language interpreter. By talking with the interpreter, you are inciting exclusion.
  3. Write it down. It would be best to ask, in written format, what they prefer before you have an entire conversation on paper.


How to help someone with a speech disability

  1. Never finish sentences for him.
  2. If you cannot understand him, ask him to repeat himself or repeat it to him for verification or ask for it to be written down.


How to help someone of short stature

  1. Never refer to someone as a “midget” or a “dwarf.” The correct terminology is “little person.”
  2. Be aware of items out of reach, and offer to lower any such items if the person may need them. Also, avoid using lower bathrooms if a bit of a person needs to use that service.
  3. Feel free to get on her level.


How to help a person with a learning disability

  1. People with specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia often prefer that material is spoken rather than written. If someone asks you to read information, help him by reading it.
  2. People with auditory learning disabilities often prefer information in written format. If someone asks for written material, even after you explain it to her verbally, provide her with the material printed.
  3. Some learning disabilities require students to study, take tests, or focus in quiet areas. If someone asks you to quiet down, you can either respect their wishes or go somewhere else for both parties to behave as they wish.


How to help a person with a developmental disability

  1. Respect and understand a person’s routine. People with developmental disabilities are often most comfortable with routines that they can follow daily. If a sudden change in routine occurs, help the person with the transition.
  2. Do not talk down to someone with a developmental disability. Adjust yourself – vocabulary and speech patterns – according to the person’s ability level.
  3. If you cannot understand what she says, do not nod nor disregard comments. Ask for it to be repeated.


How to help someone with a seizure disorder

  1. If a seizure occurs, the first thing to do is make sure the person’s head is out of harm’s way. Apart from that, there is nothing else you can do. Once the seizure is over, reassure the person that he is safe and can have privacy to recollect himself.
  2. Be aware of noise, strobe lights, and beepers. These things can trigger seizures and should be avoided around people with seizure disorders.


In conclusion, we must trust the Holy Spirit to lead us in the greatest way to help someone in need. We can ensure that PWDs have the self-esteem, performance, and inclusion they require in the workplace, homes, churches, and social circles by doing so.


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