You see someone with a disability and you don’t know what to do. This is an issue that many people have, due to personal fears of saying the wrong thing or just making them feel uncomfortable.But the answer is simple. Just say hi 🙂
Society has instilled in us a way of thinking that makes us believe that there is a separation between able-bodied vs. differently abled people. Having this gap makes the differently abled individuals feel that they are not the same as others, causing them to isolate themselves from the general population. However, just a simple friendly gesture of greeting will make them feel wanted and give them a sense of belonging.
Here are some ways to get acquainted:
1. Be respectful.The golden rule is to be respectful. People living with disabilities are no different. They are whole people and are to be treated with the same dignity and respect as people that are able.
2. It’s only awkward if you make it awkward.If there is awkwardness or tension, it is most likely coming from you. Imagine it is the first day of school and you don’t know anyone. It takes courage to make the first move, but remember that all anyone wants is to be acknowledged and included.
3. Do not make assumptions.Assumptions can make or break the starting of a friendship. Be aware of pre-conceived notions and judgments that can be placed on someone that is differently-abled. Be open minded!
4. Find similar interest and hobbies.Just because they are differently abled, does not mean they do not enjoy music, sports or other hobbies. Finding similar hobbies can be the root to making a new friendship, so that you are not giving them the impression that you are communicating with them out of pity.So have courage, say hi, and just be you! At ATI Foundation, Annai Thantha Illam we provide more information on workshops regarding accessibility.