The biggest barriers people with disabilities encounter are other people
Skip to top of page


Syndicate content

SoMe Links

Rss feed
RSS Feed

Skip to top of page

Responding to Disability: A Question of Attitude

  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/reach/public_html/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /home/reach/public_html/modules/views/handlers/ on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/reach/public_html/modules/views/handlers/ on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/reach/public_html/modules/views/handlers/ on line 0.

This questionnaire is designed to stimulate thinking and dialogue. It is not intended to test knowledge of disability or attitudes toward people with disabilities. As people increasingly find themselves in situations involving people who are disabled they need to make quick decisions on how to respond. This questionnaire provides an opportunity to think about situations involving people with disabilities, to respond, and then to consider the various responses more carefully.

Q. You see a woman with a disability struggling to get a package off of the floor and into her lap. You approach her and ask if she would like some assistance. She snaps angrily at you, saying that she can get it herself without your help. You conclude that:

a) you should not have offered to help her.
b) people who are disabled do not want assistance unless they ask for it.
c) you have just met a person in a bad mood.
d) all of the above.

Your answer should be:
c) you have just met a person in a bad mood.
People with disabilities are as varied in personality, mood and temperament as other people. You cannot learn a set of rules "for dealing with people with disabilities," follow them faithfully, and expect never to offend a person with a disability. In this case, you just met someone who either does not like to be offered assistance or someone who happened to be in a bad mood for receiving assistance at that particular moment. However, that does not mean that you were in error by offering assistance. Do not assume from one experience that all people with disabilities would prefer that you not offer assistance. Many would be grateful for the offer. Some would think that you are rude or insensitive if you don't offer to help. You won't know until you ask.
Although there are no rules to follow to ensure that you won't offend, there are some guidelines that will decrease the chances of offending. First, when you see a person who looks like they could use assistance, ask them if they would like assistance. Don't assume from one experience that all people with disabilities would refuse help. If they do indicate that they would like assistance, ask them what you can do for them and how they would like it done. Again, don't assume you know what they want done, or the best way of doing it. This is particularly true of any personal assistance you may offer (e.g., help with putting on a coat).
When you think a person with a disability needs assistance, offer it as you would offer assistance to anyone. There is no need to be overly helpful, cautious, patronizing, or sympathetic because the person is disabled. Your offer may be received with gratitude, turned down politely, or sometimes, perceived as an insult.