Individuals with disabilities should not be held to higher moral standards than others or be seen as objects of inspiration simply because they have a disability. Sometimes they are brave; other times they are not. Like anyone else, see someone with a disability as a unique person—a person with passions, dislikes, talents, quirks, strengths, weaknesses, interests, skills, and a need to be included.
2. When someone who uses a wheelchair is going uphill, you can assume they need help and give them a push.
Treat a wheelchair as part of the person’s body—as personal space. Unless there is imminent danger, don’t push or touch a wheelchair. If it appears the person is struggling, ask them if they’d like help and take your cue from them.
3. When talking with someone who is hearing impaired speak slowly and loudly.
You don’t have to walk on egg shells when talking with someone with a disability. These phrases are simply natural parts of everyday language and are perfectly acceptable to use in conversation with someone with a disability.
5. The words “the disabled” and “individuals with disabilities” are not the same.
Many individuals with disabilities have developed ways of coping with their disability that you can’t even imagine. This is particularly true for people with disabilities who are in the workforce. These phrases actually dis-empower individuals with disabilities by highlighting the person’s inabilities and challenges.
7. When speaking with someone who uses a sign language interpreter, look directly at the person instead of at the sign language interpreter.
Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing are often simultaneously reading lips while using a sign language interpreter. By looking at the interpreter instead of the person, you will make this process more difficult.
8. When shaking hands with someone who does not have use of their right arm, it’s OK to simply nod and verbally greet them.
This question may be a very emotionally loaded question for some veterans. Don’t assume they want to talk about their experiences while serving. Let the veteran take the lead on deciding whether this is an appropriate issue to discuss. Expressing gratitude for the veteran’s service, however, is never wrong.