A disability is defined as a condition or a function that can hamper a person from carrying out the day to day activities. These conditions or functions could be physical, sensory, cognitive, intellectual or mental. They could also be the result of different types of chronic diseases.
People can be affected by disabilities in a multitude of ways. Two different people who have the same disability might have different problems in life. It is not necessary that a person’s disability is visible and you can immediately find out what it is. Sometimes, it is hidden and not easily recognizable. Many types of disabilities can affect a person which may be associated with:
- Mental health
- Social relationships
Helping Differently-abled People
There are a lot of ways through which any society helps differently-abled people. Disabled people have a lot of help from the government, private, and public organizations and institutes. Every city and state has some type of institution to facilitate differently-abled people. For example, if you live in Ohio, you can find out the opportunities for Ohioans with disabilities and similarly in other states as well.
Private organizations go out of their way to make sure that their offices are disabled people-friendly and that they can come to the office and do their jobs effectively without any problems.
A common man can, too, help differently-abled people in many ways. He just needs to be aware of a few sensitive points before doing so. Please read through the following tips before you try helping someone with a disability.
Always treat them as equals
The very first thing that we have to do is not treat them as anything other than normal people. We all want to be friends with someone to have fun, to have a social life; the same is the case with disabled people. They don’t want our sympathy as much as normalcy. Don’t be embarrassed to approach them and strike up a conversation. Also, don’t be afraid. People with disabilities can have as much fun as we do.
Ask before you Help
People with different disabilities have different ways to cope with them. Just because you know that someone is living with a disability doesn’t mean that they are incapable of doing everyday tasks. They may be struggling but they might like it that way and feel elation and joy after their struggle. Let them be as independent as they want to be. Never assume that they are in trouble and don’t lend a helping hand before asking for their permission. We all want to help someone in need and that is okay. Just make sure that you ask first.
Never assume about anyone
We all have different problems in life. Some of us may have a disability and some of us may not. We may look like we have a disability or we may not so, never assume a person’s disability yourself. If someone opens up to you about their disability, just carry on in a normal way and treat them the same as any other person, or the way you would want to be treated. This builds trust and confidence in your bond with them.
Do not stare
This one should have been at the top of the list. Out of embarrassment, curiosity, or any other emotion, some of us tend to stare at people with disabilities as they try to go about their everyday lives. We admit that sometimes, it is a learning experience as you see a disabled person in public, but remember that they have their own lives and they are trying to live it as normally as they can. You staring at them makes nervous, and that leads them to make more mistakes than they probably do. So, no matter what they do, don’t stare.
Respect and understand confidentiality
We are always trying to help someone in need and getting others to do the same. In some situations, this can become a problem for the person that we are trying to help. Disabled people have the right to keep their disability to themselves if they want to. No law compels them to tell us about their disabilities. If someone has confided their problems in you, that doesn’t mean that you can go ahead and tell the entire office. It doesn’t matter if your intentions were not malicious and you just wanted to help.
It is still a violation of a person’s privacy. If you do want to discuss a person’s disability with someone else, ask for permission first.
Helping a visually impaired or blind person
When we see someone who is blind and going about their business in a market, a park, or anywhere else with their guide dogs, sometimes we have an urge to talk to the dog or pat it, play with it, or maybe even feed it. Never do that. Remember that the dog is working at that moment. If you like the dog and want to do the things mentioned above, first ask the dog’s owner.
You wouldn’t go to one of your colleagues and start disturbing them while they were at work, would you? The same applies to the dog, if you disturb them, they might not be able to guide the disabled person properly.
Helping a person with crutches
Remember the second rule? If you see someone who is walking with the help of crutches and you feel like you should help them, ask for permission first. You might think that the person is struggling, but they might be in the habit of doing that thing in their way. They just might be trying different ways of becoming more independent.
Also, never touch their equipment like crutches, a motorized wheelchair, a dog, or a white cane. These objects are fragile and without these objects, they might not be able to do even the smallest task. So hands off the equipment.
There are a lot of ways that you can help a differently-abled person. The best thing is to be there for them when they need us. You should make them feel comfortable and treat them as normal people.