Baseball Is Seen As The Truly All-American Sport To Activ How To Get To Know A Disabled Person

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How To Get To Know A Disabled Person

When you first meet someone who is blind, deaf or in a wheelchair, what is your initial reaction? Curiosity? Sympathy? Clumsiness? If you experience any of these emotions, you are not alone. Chances are you don’t regularly hang out with someone who has a disability, so these feelings are quite common.

Having been blind since birth, I have encountered a wide range of reactions, from curious looks when walking down the street with a cane or holding someone’s hand, to amazement that I can feed myself and dress myself. Most people don’t mean to be rude or insensitive, but they’re just not sure what to expect. Here are four things to keep in mind if you happen to meet a disabled person.

1. People with disabilities can lead an active life. With few exceptions, a disability does not prevent someone from working, raising a family, or participating in social activities. Many sports and recreation programs are adapted to accommodate people with disabilities, including baseball, golf, water skiing, cycling and swimming. Instead of focusing on the disability, look at the person the same way you would any other acquaintance.

2. It’s okay to ask questions. Many people are afraid of offending someone by asking about their disability. When you meet someone for the first time, it’s natural to be curious about who they are, where they’re from, and what they do for a living.

The same applies to a person with a disability. Asking questions is usually acceptable, as long as you use common sense. Do not, for example, ask a blind person how to feed and bathe. Instead, find out what equipment or techniques he uses at work and at home, how he gets around town, how he does Braille, etc.

3. Offer to help when needed. You see a woman in a wheelchair who has trouble entering a building or negotiating steps. You’d like to help, but you don’t want to embarrass her. What should you do?

It is usually appropriate to lend a hand if someone is having an obvious difficulty, but be aware that not everyone will be ready to accept your help. It’s not much different from stopping and helping a driver with a flat tire. Unless the woman in the wheelchair is in danger, there is no need to ask if they refuse your help. You did your part.

4. Remember that we all have obstacles to overcome. No matter who we are, each of us has a weakness or a challenge that we face. How do you feel when you are treated differently because you are bald, short or fat? Like you, a person with a disability would rather be accepted for who they are than be pitied or shunned because of their disability. Many friends and colleagues have said to me, “I often forget that you are blind.” To me, that’s the ultimate compliment.

Meeting someone with a disability doesn’t have to be a scary experience. Asking questions, offering to help, and putting yourself in their shoes can go a long way in recognizing them as people with normal thoughts and feelings who just happen to have a disability. Who knows? You might make some new friends in the process.

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