One of the questions we are asked the most at Enhance the UK is ‘How do I refer to a disabled person without offending them?’ In today’s society, many of us are terrified of offending or patronising others, and rightly so! But, there’s nothing worse than letting your communication fear get in the way of talking to disabled people so much that you end up not conversing at all! So, here are our top tips for using the correct terminology when communicating with disabled people:
- Ask them first.
It’s unlikely that you will ever need to know about someone’s impairment or condition, unless you are a medical professional, work in a school or are reporting an incident. But if you do need to know the specifics for any reason, don’t guess! Politely and calmly ask the disabled person in question how to best describe their impairment. That way, you’ve put them in control of the situation without assuming or shying away from the issue at hand.
- Idioms are OK
People also get hung up on using everyday sayings around disabled people. Saying ‘see you later’ to a blind person or ‘walk this way’ to a wheelchair user is absolutely fine! In fact, the worst thing you can possibly do is stumble over your words, feel embarrassed and end up not chatting at all!
- It’s all about the intention
We all slip up sometimes and say the wrong thing, and let’s be honest, disabled people are used to non-disabled people feeling a little awkward around them (unfortunately). But, if your motives come from a good place, then that’s half the battle.
For more information, get in touch with us by visiting www.enhancetheuk.org or tweeting us @enhancetheuk