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Interacting with People Who Have Disabilities

Interacting with People Who Have Disabilities

According to the United States Census, nearly one in five individuals live with some kind of disability. That’s a pretty high number. Yet for some reason, for those who don’t have a disability, it can still be difficult to interact naturally and normally with those who do. Why is this?

Awkwardness or uncomfortability when interacting with people who have disabilities can be traced all the way back to when we were little children. Parents often tell children, “Don’t stare!” or “It’s rude to ask questions.” While these suggestions may be well-intentioned, they can end up having negative consequences later on in life when connecting with people with disabilities.

While every individual is unique and has their own preferences, there are some general guidelines to follow when interacting comfortably and respectfully with people with disabilities.

Just relax.
Oftentimes, the biggest issue when interacting with someone who is disabled is not wanting to be offensive. Able-bodied persons try so hard not to be rude or make a mistake, that they end up getting flustered, awkward or even completely avoiding the individual who is disabled. The first thing to do in situations like this is just relax. If you treat the individual like any other person, he or she will know that you’re trying to be respectful, even if you slip up sometimes.

Use “person-first” language.
Many (but not all) individuals prefer what is called “person-first” language. This simply means recognizing the person for who they are, rather than by his or her disability. If you must acknowledge someone’s disability, some examples include “Katie has cerebral palsy” rather than “disabled person” or “that girl in a wheelchair.”

Avoid patronizing.
No one likes being patronized or treated like a child. Never talk down to a person with a disability. This means avoiding child-like vocabulary, pet names or talking unnecessarily louder than normal. Phrases such as “You are so cute!” or “Wow, look how brave you are” should be avoided. Waking up in the morning and going to the store is not “inspirational,” and patronizing remarks or phrases such as this can have an especially negative effect.

Ask before helping.
Most individuals with disabilities know how to take care of themselves, or have someone who is trained to help. While automatically helping someone may seem kind, it can be frustrating or even dehumanizing for a person with a disability. Things such as taking a person’s arm and steering them in “the right direction,” putting on their jacket for them or pushing someone’s wheelchair can be very invasive. If you see a person who appears to be struggling, ask his or her permission first before offering your help.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Finally, when you’ve established a relationship and the situation is appropriate, don’t be afraid to acknowledge the person’s disability and ask respectful questions. Avoid making assumptions, engage in meaningful conversation and make an effort to get to know the person for who they are, rather than just their disability.

Follow the Golden Rule.
Or better yet, follow the Platinum Rule: treat others how they would like to be treated. Take your lead from the person you’re interacting with to see how they prefer to be acknowledged, treated and described. Share in their perspective to gain valuable insight.

Remember: every person is unique and has his or her own preferences. These guidelines are not universal, but can be a great start for bridging the communication gap and interacting across different abilities. Try these next time to see how you can learn and grow in an altruistic lifestyle.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT:

Dear Clients & Supporters,

As you may have heard, our office in Pueblo was maliciously vandalized by an unidentified gunman, just after midnight on the evening of June 2nd.

Footage from our security cameras shows an initially calm scene, before what appears to be a man walking by nonchalantly, hands tucked in pockets, suddenly stopping and turning to withdraw a firearm. The gunman then starts dashing, firing shot after shot directly at our storefront.

This person and their weapon have caused immense harm. Financially, the estimated damage exceeds $25,000. The same bullets that shattered glass and pierced through walls have wounded our hearts. However, the cost of this emotional damage cannot be measured in dollars. If there is a silver lining, it’s that nobody was physically hurt - or worse. For that, we’re eternally grateful.

To be clear, this individual and this destructive act, are not linked to the Black Lives Matter movement or protests of any kind. Unfortunately, we believe this anger to be rooted locally in a conflict between a tenant and their disgruntled clients.

In the wake of the ongoing pandemic and riots spurred by civil unrest nationwide, we know things are uncomfortable right now. We know people are upset and hurting. We're hurting too.

As much as it pains us to board up these windows and doors and close our building, we have no other choice but to do so until we can get them fixed. Despite our office being closed, rest assured, we are still working.

While the need for our services grows, so does our need for your support. In fact, we need you now more than ever. Whether it's time or a monetary donation, anything you can do to help us continue promoting healthy, vibrant neighborhoods across Southern Colorado is not only sincerely appreciated; it's vital to actualizing our mutual goals as a community. You can make your contribution, securely and conveniently online at https://nwsoco.org/how-to-help/donate.html or to submit interest in volunteering please visit https://nwsoco.org/how-to-help/volunteer.html.

We want you to know, we will be back, and we will continue to fight for a better Southern Colorado. To get there, more of us need to change. Amidst these changes, one thing will remain certain: our commitment to serving you and the entire Southern Colorado community.

The pain we feel now will pass, just like the time we have with those we love. Remember to take care of each other. If this unprecedented time has taught us anything, it’s that we need each other more than we could have ever known.


SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT:

A Message about Our Services in Light of Coronavirus (COVID-19) – UPDATED 06/09/2020

NeighborWorks Southern Colorado cares about the health and safety of our customers, staff, and community partners. Out of an abundance of caution, we are suspending in-person workshops and counseling appointments temporarily. We will continue to provide homebuyer education and counseling services virtually, and you can reach our employees by phone or email. We will not be receiving visitors to our office until further notice.

We are in the process of contacting customers registered for our Homebuyer Education Workshops or scheduled for an in-person counseling appointment to make other arrangements. If you need to reach us, please call (719) 544-8078.

We are monitoring the news closely and taking advantage of this time to do updates and upgrades to our building to better serve you when we re-open; we will post updates about our services to this website. Thank you for choosing NeighborWorks Southern Colorado as your trusted partner and first choice for homebuyer resources in Southern Colorado.

06/09/2020

Please take precautionary measures... Be safe and stay healthy

Our Impact in 2019

  • Attended Group & Online Classes

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  • Dollars Invested Into Communities

    125,400,000

  • Dollars in Mortgage Loans Originated

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