This week, we came across some pretty awesome videos aimed at teaching adults proper etiquette for interacting with people with disabilities. We are so grateful to Scope, a UK-based company, for raising awareness! As educators, camp counselors, and childcare providers, we often think about how to talk to kids about disability. However, sometimes even we feel unsure about how to respond to certain situations. Scope created a campaign called “End The Awkward” with videos of how to act in different situations we may find uncomfortable. For example, do you know what level you should stand at when speaking to someone who uses a wheelchair? Check out Scope’s videos below! When you’re finished, take this quiz to see how you’re doing!
‘End The Awkward’ Bending Over To A Wheelchair User – Scope’s Advert with Alex Brooker
‘End The Awkward’ Handshake – Scope’s Advert With Alex Brooker
‘End The Awkward’ Chat Up – Scope’s Advert With Alex Brooker
Now, take this quiz!
We found these videos and complementary quiz quite helpful in determining which behaviors we can model for our kids. They got us thinking about how we should act in situations like these, and what the underlying rules should be, when in doubt. Scope gives us five basic rules to keep in mind here:
Five Basic Rules for Disability Etiquette
1. See the person, not the impairment. (There is more to each person than their disability!)
2. Try not to make assumptions about what the person can or cannot do.
3. If you are unsure of how to respond, just ask!
4. Accept what the person’s answer is, since they know themselves better than you know them.
5. Remember that not all disabilities are visible.
Since we are speaking to people, it’s okay to ask questions or to be genuinely curious. If you do not know how to respond to the individual or situation, ask them if they have a preference on how they would like to interact. It may feel awkward, but just remember that they would usually prefer you ask than do the wrong thing. Imagine you’re a vegetarian (meaning you don’t eat any meat or fish). You eat at a friend’s house for dinner, and she brings out a big plate of seafood. She had assumed that “vegetarian” meant you don’t eat land animals, but you can eat fish. It can cause a pretty uncomfortable situation, right? Wouldn’t you have rather she asked what exactly it is you eat? It’s kind of like that.
And staring without asking is impolite. If you are staring, then they probably know that you are curious. It’s fine to ask questions, but make sure that you ask the question in a respectful and positive way. [For example, “I’m curious– why do you use a wheelchair?”, not “What’s wrong with you?”]
As with anything else, this person’s entire identity is not based completely around their disability. Make sure you genuinely try to get to know the person, instead of focusing on just that one part of their identity!
–Written by Elise Hopkins, KIT Blog Writer
Kids Included Together (KIT) is a non-profit located in San Diego, CA and Washington, DC. We help make the world a more inclusive place by providing live and online training to people who work with kids. We teach strategies, accommodations and best practices to include kids with and without disabilities in before & after school programs. Inclusive environments create stronger communities. Learn more about our work at www.KITonline.org.