Tips on How to Engage with People with Disabilities


In the community, the performance of people with disabilities is impacted due to the attitudes of their peers. Negative attitudes in social circles are the greatest barrier for people with disabilities. As such, here are some effective ways on how you can help create an inclusive environment:

Ask First

It is not best to assume that people need your help. Always ask if they need anything to make the process easier for them. They know their needs and they will tell you how to best meet them. Meanwhile, if they asked for your help, ask for specific instructions on how you can help.

Face the Person

If you are communicating with a person with a disability who is hard of hearing, make sure that you face them so they can read your lips. Do not cover your mouth when you speak or turn your back against them. Do not shout. You can use big hand gestures. Speak slowly and clearly. Try to put yourself at eye level for people who use the wheelchair to access the disability support services. Speak directly to them.

Treat Everyone Equally

Treat persons with disabilities the same way that you would treat anyone else. Do not assume what they can or cannot do. Make sure to focus on the person and not on the disability. It is also not right to bring it up unless it is relevant. Remember, not all disability is visible. As such, make sure to get to know the person first.

Use the Appropriate Language

People with disabilities are still people. The American with Disabilities Act has provided a model that emphasizes the person and not the disability.

For example, you can use the word disability when you refer to someone who has a physical, emotional, mental, sensory, or learning impairment. Meanwhile, you must not use the word handicapped because it refers to a person with a disability that cannot do it.

You must avoid labeling someone as disabled or victim. Avoid calling someone as wheelchair-bound. Wheelchairs provide access for individuals to get around easily. Refer to a person who uses a wheelchair with a mobility impairment.

Whenever appropriate to refer to the disability, make sure to choose the correct terminology. Use a phrase such as hearing impairment, speech impairment, dwarfism, or specific learning disability.

Be Courteous

If you work in a place with disability support services and a person with a disability asks for your help, make sure to be courteous. Be polite, introduce yourself, and ask how can you help. Wait until the person accepts your offer before assisting. If an interpreter, help, or friend accompanies them, make sure to speak directly to the customer.

Be considerate for it may take some extra time for the customer to say or do some things. If you can’t understand what’s being said, don’t fake it. Make sure to ask again.

Be flexible. Some may need written information such as electronic texts or large prints. It is also helpful to be ready for verbal instructions. If a blind person or someone with a low vision asks for your help, consider describing the layout of the area for them. Make sure to include any obstacles like stairs or furniture.


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