I have a problem however with the standard disability etiquette proffered at schools and corporations throughout America. It’s simply not enough, and the basic ten rules leave a lot of important, less-obvious, things out. Important things you should really know if being a non-douchebag to people with disabilities is important to you (and I hope it is!). And while my word isn’t the end all and be all, I’m an observant gimp. Let my last 17 years of paralysis serve you well. Here are 3 important disability etiquette rules that will take you from amateur land to the land of the super evolved.
3. Inviting us to your party? Everyone loves the token disabled person at a rockin‘ shindig (jk). If you’ve invited people with mobility disabilities (wheelchair, walker, cane) to your get-together, remember that you also need to let them know about the accessibility part of the equation, either in the invite or in a separate email, just to let them know how you plan on getting them into the party. One never assumes. And while the disabled invitee could ask, proper etiquette deems that the host makes it their responsibility all guests are cared for.
2. Think before you try to be funny: While most people’s intentions are usually pure of heart, throwing out random ass comments to people in wheelchairs as they fly by is no way to make them feel good. While it may make YOU feel good to say, “Hey slow down or you may get a speeding ticket!” it’s something we’ve all heard before, and btw, IT IS NOT FUNNY. Really, not funny at all. No laugh.
1. Stop complimenting us for doing simple things: Everyone loves a compliment (especially me), but being complimented for going to Target? Ummm…not so much. I didn’t go to physical rehab for months on end to have strangers give me two thumbs up for successfully making my daily errands. Condescending? I don’t even know where to begin.