Disability Awareness Month

As we approach Indiana’s Disability Awareness Month in March, it’s a great time to reflect on the way we treat individuals with disabilities.  If your response to that thought is not “just like everyone else,” you may need to rethink your approach.

Ask yourself these questions. Do you avoid eye contact when passing a person with a disability? Do you act overly cautious when around someone with a disability?  Do you instinctively help someone with a disability without first being asked for your help or asking if your help is needed? If your answer was yes to any these questions, here are some tips.

  1. Don’t make assumptions. People with disabilities are capable of doing most everything the rest of us can do. If you see someone struggling, ask if they want your help, don’t just jump in as if you know they can’t complete the task.
  2. Don’t be afraid. A person with a disability is not sick. They are simply differently abled. Make eye contact, smile and say hello, just as you would anyone else.
  3. Follow the “golden rule.” You know the one: Treat others as you would like to be treated. If you do that, then you can’t go wrong.

Whether it’s a coworker, classmate, neighbor or stranger, we have the opportunity to meet people with disabilities every day. Take the time to get to know them. They can bring a new perspective into the workplace and you may find you have common interests. The best part, you could make a new friend.