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Disability Etiquette

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Did you know that there are 56.7 million people with a disability in the United States? That’s one out of every four people, making up the largest minority group in the United States. Learning respectful ways to interact with people with disabilities is a great way to ensure people can fully be a part of our communities.

People with disabilities are individuals, and everyone is different. The best way to know how someone wants to be treated is to simply just ask them. It is always better to ask than to make assumptions.

It is fairly common for stereotypes to influence us when interacting with people with disabilities. Our culture has taught us, often incorrectly, certain assumptions about people with disabilities.

The best way to combat this tendency is to see every person as an individual. Stereotypes can limit how we perceive and value people with disabilities.

For example, seeing them as heroic and inspirational communicates low expectations of people with disabilities. This frames the disability as something to overcome, rather than a natural part of human life.

Another example is feeling pity for people with disabilities and seeing them as victims. People with disabilities want to be treated like everyone else and be appreciated for their strengths. All situations call for flexibility, patience, creativity, and open communication.

Let's go over some fundamentals of disability etiquette. Focus on individuality. Have patience. Ask, don't assume. Treat people with respect and dignity.

It's important to remember that people with disabilities are individuals with families, jobs, hobbies, likes and dislikes, problems, and joys.

While the disability is an integral part of who they are, it alone does not define them.

Explore more resources about disabilities at The Rocky Mountain ADA Center.

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