Occasionally there’s a blog topic I revisit because it is so important, and I want it to stay fresh on everyone’s mind! One of those topics is disability awareness 101. As the public relations assistant at Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley, one of my duties is to help-out during New Hire Orientation. I teach a session called, Disability Awareness.
I love teaching this session for it gives me an opportunity to engage with new employees and spread awareness about people with disabilities. Everyone at some point will meet a person with a disability, whether it’s a neighbor, friend, classmate, co-worker or family member. My main objective is to make sure everyone knows certain things that are very basic when it comes to people with disabilities.
Would you like it if someone leaned on your car after you got it washed? Just like you probably wouldn’t, I don’t like it when people lean on my scooter! Although, it’s cute, my scooter isn’t a pole and it’s rude for you to lean on it or any other adaptive equipment. Also, remember to never move someone’s equipment for he or she has placed it to make it simple to retrieve. Such equipment was made to assist people so they can be more independent.
No matter how loud you yell, a person who’s deaf or hard of hearing walking down the hall with their back turned from you, is not going to respond. To get their attention, gently tap their shoulder and remember to talk slowly for some people read lips.
Service and seeing eye animals are beautiful but you must refrain from petting them unless you get permission from their handler; they are working. If you distract their attention, the animal may lose focus of what they’re supposed to be doing.
Please do not talk over a person because he or she has a disability. Talking over people no matter their situation as if they don’t exist is just, rude. Remember to talk directly to the person.
If you don’t understand someone with a speech impairment don’t fake like you did! As a person who has a speech impairment, I can say “I want you to understand what I’m saying and if you can’t, ask me to repeat myself”. I don’t find the request of repeating myself offensive at all, but I do when a person pretends what he or she think I’ve said.
Remember, there are disabilities that aren’t visible. Try not to judge if you see someone acting outside of the norm because there’s a possibility that person may have a hidden disability.
I’m happy to say that by the time I’m finished teaching my disability 101 session, the class has a better understanding of people with disabilities and they’re not uncomfortable to ask other questions that they might have wanted to ask before. This makes me proud to be an advocate for persons with disabilities.
Remember, at the end of the day, people with disabilities are people first. Brush-up on things you should know by clicking on this link to a very informative video.