How we write about and speak with people with disability can have a profound effect on the individual and on community attitudes. By their very nature, some words and interactions can degrade and diminish people with disability. Others perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes, entirely removing a person’s individuality and, in some cases, their dignity.
Through positive and appropriate interactions with people with disability, we can help break down the barriers that they face in the community and in the physical environment. It is important to recognise people with disability for what they can do, rather than focusing on their limitations.
When communicating with a person with disability, rely on your common sense, and interact with people the way you would want to be treated. The fundamental principle is to put the person before the disability.
- Speak directly to the person with disability.
- Provide the person with a disability with all relevant information so they can make informed decisions.
- Ensure the person with a disability is involved in all stages of the decision making process.
- Ask a person if and what assistance may be needed. Do not assume you know what assistance is required.
- Treat people with disability with the same respect and courtesy you would expect.
- People with disability are not invisible, do understand what is being said to them, and can speak for themselves. Do not attempt to speak, or finish a sentence, for the person you are speaking to.