Interacting with persons with disabilities can be unsettling, to some extent. This is more from lacking the know-how: that is knowing what to do and how to do it in presence of persons with disabilities Here are some “to dos” while interacting with persons with disabilities:
1. We say “a person with a disability” rather than “a disabled person.” “people with disabilities” over “the disabled.” For specific disabilities, saying “person with Tourette Syndrome” or “person who has cerebral palsy” is usually a safe bet. Still, individuals do have their own preferences. If you are not sure what words to use be kind to ask.
2. Avoid outdated terms like “handicapped” or “crippled.” Be aware that many people with disabilities dislike jargon, euphemistic terms like “physically challenged” and “differently abled.”
3. We say “a wheelchair user,” rather than “confined to a wheelchair” or “wheelchair-bound.” The wheelchair is what enables the person to get around and participate in society; it’s liberating, not confining.4. It’s okay to use idiomatic expressions when talking to people with disabilities. For ex- ample, saying, “It was good to see you,” and “See you later,” to a person who is blind is completely acceptable; they use these expressions themselves all the time!
4. It’s okay to use idiomatic expressions when talking to people with disabilities. For ex- ample, saying, “It was good to see you,” and “See you later,” to a person who is blind is completely acceptable; they use these expressions themselves all the time!5.
5. Many people who are Deaf communicate with sign language and consider themselves to be members of a cultural and linguistic minority. They refer to themselves as Deaf with a capital “D,” and may be offended by the term “hearing impaired” to refer to people who have hearing loss but communicate in spoken language.
6. With any disability, avoid negative, disempowering words like “victim” or “sufferer.” Say “person with AIDS,” instead of “AIDS victim” or “one who suffers from AIDS.”
7. We want you to think of people who have a disability as individuals— your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors— so rather than use the amorphous group term “they” for people with disabilities, we use the pronouns “he” or “she” throughout our posts.