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By Kayla Giacin
Friday, January 20, 2012

Perceptions that our society has regarding people with disabilities are often extremely inaccurate.  A person with a speech impairment may be treated as if they’re not capable of understanding basic information even though the difficulty lies in them expressing things that they already know, and not their understanding of the actual knowledge.  People with physical handicaps are often treated as if they’re mentally incapable.  Sometimes the unequal treatment lies in the fact that people don’t understand what is considered a disability to begin with. For example, if somebody behaves in a way that our society views as “odd” or “bizarre”, they might be treated unfairly because they are seen as being difficult instead of as someone who suffers from a neurological issue.

So, how can we make productive changes that can encourage others to be more understanding of disabilities? Liza Mirza Grotts, who writes as an etiquette expert for the Huffington Post, recently published a post regarding what she calls “disability etiquette”.  In her article titled "Disability Etiquette, Think Ability, Not Disability", she writes about common misconceptions of how disabilities are perceived and how to better manage behavior and reactions when interacting with people who have disabilities.  It includes tips that might seem obvious, such as “…don’t stare”, but also touches upon things that even very conscientious people might not be aware of such as, “Never pet or distract a guide dog,” and “Even if you see that a person is wearing a hearing device, don't raise your voice unless requested”.

Society has a long way to go in terms of properly understanding what having a disability means but by taking steps like these, awareness is spread and more equal treatment can be given.

I’m interested to hear what you have experienced in the community regarding this topic and what advice you would give to others who are looking to improve the way that they handle interacting with people who have a disability.

To see Grotts full article and tips, go to:


Source: Grotts, L. M. (18 January 2012). Disability: think ability, not disability. Huffington Post.

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