Fact Or Fiction?

People with disabilities are more comfortable with “their own kind.”
Fiction. In the past, grouping people with disabilities in separate schools and institutions reinforced this misconception. Today, opportunities exist for many of the disabled to join mainstream society.

Non-disabled people are obligated to “take care of” people with disabilities.
Fiction. Anyone can offer assistance, but most disabled prefer to be independent and are generally responsible for themselves.

People with disabilities always need help.
Fiction. Many people with disabilities are independent and capable of taking care of their basic needs. If you would like to offer your help, ask before you do so.

Never ask people about their disabilities. Curious children should be told that it is rude to do so.
Fiction. Children have a natural, uninhibited curiosity and may ask questions that some adults consider embarrassing. Admonishing children for their behavior may make them think that having a disability is “bad” thing. Most people with disabilities generally would not mind answering a child’s question.

Lives of people with disabilities are totally different than the lives of their able-bodied counterparts.
Fiction. Most people with disabilities go to school, work; get married, have families, do household chores; have emotions and dreams, laugh, cry, get angry; and have prejudices just like the rest of us.

Most people with disabilities cannot have sexual relationships.
Fiction. People with disabilities, like other people, are sexual beings and can have a sexual relationship by adapting the sexual activity.

Wheelchairs are an extension of a disabled person’s personal space.
Fact. Since you would typically not lean or hang on to people, don’t lean or hang on someone’s wheelchair.

When you offer to assist someone with vision impairment, hold their hand and lead them.
Fiction. Allow the person to take your arm. This will help you to guide, rather than propel or lead them.

People with disabilities are entitled to the same courtesies that are extended to everyone else.
Fact. If you believe that it is inappropriate to ask people about issues related to their personal privacy such as their sex lives or their incomes, extend the same courtesy to people with disabilities. In fact some common courtesies you can extend to the disabled are:

  • When planning events involving the disabled, be conscious of their needs ahead of time. Make them aware of the various events and what is involved so they can be well prepared.
  • Be considerate of the extra time it might take them to get things accomplished. Let them set the pace.
  • When helping someone with a disability listen carefully to any instructions they may want to give.
  • When talking to someone with a disability, speak directly to them rather than through a companion they may have.
  • It is okay to use words like “see”, “hear”, “walk” and “run” when talking with friends who have Disabilities.
  • When talking with people who use wheelchairs, sit down so their necks won’t get sore looking up at you.
  • Don’t speak loudly when talking to blind people. They can hear quite well. When greeting a person with loss of sight, identify yourself and everyone with you before starting a conversation.
  • Never pet or play with Seeing Eye dogs. They can’t be distracted from the job they are doing.
  • It is okay to ask people who have speech problems to repeat themselves if they are not understood the first time. Never pretend to understand if you are having difficulty doing so. When necessary ask questions that require short answers.
  • If an interpreter is helping you speak with a deaf person, make sure to talk to the deaf person, not the interpreter.

There is nothing one person can do to help eliminate the barriers confronting people with disabilities.
Fiction. Everyone can contribute to change. You can help remove barriers by:

  • Advocating a barrier-free physical, social and intellectual environment.
  • Speaking up when negative words or phrases are used about disability.
  • Accepting people with disabilities as individuals capable of the same needs and feelings as yourself, and hiring qualified disabled persons whenever possible.