People with disabilities often encounter challenges daily, but it is essential to recognise that not every action requires assistance. Society's attitude towards disability still has room for improvement, despite the intention of individuals to be helpful. Recent experiences shared on social media platforms highlight the attitudinal barriers faced by people with disabilities when others offer help. It is crucial to understand that disability is not solely about a diagnosis but about encountering inaccessible environments, systems, and attitudes. So, how can we respectfully ask a person with a disability if they would like assistance? Here are four important considerations.
Disability is not a deficiency but rather a result of the mismatch between a person and their environment. It is crucial to recognise and acknowledge that individuals with disabilities are human beings with the same rights and dimensions of personhood as anyone else. When offering help, ask, "Do you need assistance?" and understand that they might not require it. If help is needed, ask how best to provide support based on their preferences rather than assuming what they need.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has revolutionised support services for individuals with disabilities in Australia. However, successfully registering as an NDIS provider can be complicated. At HCPA, our specialists support you through the entire process. We provide guidance, expertise, and assistance, ensuring a smooth journey in becoming an NDIS provider. We aim to make the registration process seamless, allowing you to focus on providing high-quality services to those in need.
Pay attention to the response and consider underlying factors.
Respect a person's right to freedom of expression and opinion and listen attentively to their response when offering assistance. If the answer is negative, try to empathise with their perspective. Adverse reactions may stem from past experiences of discrimination or lack of recognition. Understand that the appropriateness of offering help depends on various factors, including the context, the individual's relationship with you, and the potential consequences of helping or not helping. Please respect their privacy and autonomy in deciding whether they require assistance.
Know what not to do:
Specific actions should be avoided when interacting with individuals with disabilities. Never touch someone, their assistive devices, aids, or support animals without consent. Enquiring their diagnosis or impairment is inappropriate unless it directly relates to the current situation. Use language that preserves their dignity and avoids negative framing of disability.
Think beyond individual interactions.
Creating social change takes time and effort. While respectfully interacting with individuals with disabilities, it is essential to reflect on your own biases and manage any mixed emotions that may arise. A more impactful way to offer help is to work towards building an inclusive society. Ensure the environments you influence are accessible and inclusive for people with disabilities.
Creating social change takes time and effort. Alongside respectfully interacting with individuals with disabilities, we encourage reflection on personal biases and managing any mixed emotions that may arise. HCPA is working towards building a lasting relationship; approaching assistance for people with disabilities requires sensitivity, respect, and understanding. Recognising their rights, listening to their responses, avoiding inappropriate actions, and working towards broader social change is vital to promoting dignity and inclusion.
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SOURCES | The Conversation' Disability and dignity - 4 things to think about if you want to help |