Frequently Unasked Questions

Frequently Unasked Questions

This section contains all the Frequently Unasked Questions about disability. People are often afraid to ask questions and worry about how to treat disabled people in order to avoid offending.

It’s quite a complex subject, because disabled people are all different and have different opinions so we asked some of our disabled friends and colleagues what they thought. You can also find out more about our panel and their experiences of disability on our meet the FUQ team page.

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I’m afraid of offending a disabled person – how do I avoid that?

Gary: Don’t stare. Speak directly to the person, not through a companion. Avoid using a patronising tone of voice, as if speaking to a child. Speak to someone the way you’d like to be spoken to. Paul: Treat the individual just like anyone else. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Mel: First of all, just Read more »

Attitudes to Disability - Enhance the UK

What can disabled people still do?

Mel: “What can’t we do? Not much! I think most disabled people are more active than a lot of able-bodied people.” David: “Anything and everything.” Enhance the UK team: “There’s very little now that disabled people can’t do. Often the problem is that they’re not given the opportunity. This is where Enhance Your Social Life Read more »

How do I know what the right terms for different disabilities are?

What are the correct terms to use when talking about disability?

Mel: “I’m personally not too worried about ‘correct terms’, but I call myself a ‘wheelchair user’ and ‘hearing impaired’, because most people think that being deaf means you can’t hear at all. If you’re hard of hearing, some people seem to think that all they need to do is shout at you to make themselves Read more »

What counts as discrimination?

Gary: “The law has its own definition, but it’s really about the intention to put barriers in someone’s way based on their disability. Social Model and all that!” Mel: “This is a tough one because I think that different people have very different views on what discrimination is. I personally feel that discrimination is when Read more »

Should I talk slowly to deaf people?

Mel: “No! Please don’t. Use a normal tone and speed, but be clear. Look directly at the person you’re talking to, so they can lip read, and don’t SHOUT! This is my pet hate and it happens all the time. When someone shouts all they’re doing is distorting the sound of their voice, which then Read more »

Should I lead a blind person - Enhance the UK

Should I offer to lead a blind person?

Gary: “Why not? Definitely ask whether the person wants any help.” Paul: “Yes, offer assistance. And don’t be scared about them bumping into things; it’s an occupational hazard.” Mel: “I know some blind people who’re more than happy to have some help. Just don’t grab someone without asking first. And if you do help, talk Read more »

Should I push a wheelchair?

Should I offer to push a wheelchair?

Gary: “If you believe it’d be of benefit, ask whether you can help in any way.” Mel: “Yes that’s fine, but again don’t just grab hold of someone’s wheelchair! You could jolt them, which for me personally isn’t a good idea! The best help I’ve had has been when someone has asked how I liked Read more »

What types of disability are there?

Mel: “I’ve brittle bone disease, which is a very rare genetic condition that affects the bones all over my body. They’re very fragile and can break with very little pressure because of a lack of collagen. My bones can’t bend like most people’s do under slight pressure; they’ll just break. I’ve had about 180 fractures Read more »

Can disabled people have sex?

Can disabled people have sex?

Mel: Yes, like anyone else. Sex can be fulfilling in many ways, although some disabled people may need assistance. Gary: Yes please! We just have to be more… creative! Paul: It depends on the disability. Actually, some disabled people may not be able to have sex, but this won’t prevent them having the same sexual Read more »

Am I allowed to mention a person’s disability?

Gary: Depends on the relevance and context. Paul: Everyone’s different; some people don’t wish to talk about their disability, and others are fine with it. It depends on the individual and how long they’ve been living with their disability. Rule of thumb: wait for them to bring it up. Mel: I personally don’t mind if Read more »

Can I ask questions about a person’s disability?

Paul: A disability is a very personal thing for some people; don’t assume it’s an open book. Obviously, if you’re friends with the individual then your relationship will dictate what is acceptable. Mel: You can ask me; I don’t mind at all. I think it’s a good idea because it helps to educate people. I’ve Read more »

How do I know what the right terms for different disabilities are? They seem to be changing all the time!

Gary: It depends how well you know your audience. Some people might say ‘people with disabilities’ rather than ‘disabled people’. However, the movement has claimed the word ‘disabled’ back. Don’t get too hung up on it! Paul: Depends on their disability, but assume nothing. Enhance the UK team: This is a difficult question to Read more »

Meet the FUQ team

Disability’s a complex subject, because disabled people are all different! So we asked some of our disabled friends and colleagues to answer your FUQs, so you can get a range of opinions. Find out more about the people who have kindly given us their opinions Read more »

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