A Guide to Interacting With People Who Have Disabilities

Updated on May 15, 2023
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An essential thing to remember when interacting with people who have impairments is that they are, first and foremost, human beings.

Aside from their physical impairment, they have a variety of other features. People with disabilities are just like the rest of us. They go to work, have hobbies, and even adapt their homes with the help of professionals, such as an Activ specialist disability accommodation, to live their lives. It’s important that they’re regarded with decency and respect in all situations.

When interacting with persons who have impairments, pay attention to their abilities rather than their disabilities. In our culture, people with disabilities are distinct individuals who possess a wealth of knowledge and skills and a diverse range of interests and experiences. They contribute incredible diversity, ingenuity, and inventiveness to our community.

Remember that people with disabilities may perform tasks differently than those without impairments, but they can obtain the same results.

People with Disabilities: Etiquette for Interacting With Them

To help you better understand how to interact with people who have disabilities, the list below provides specific recommendations.

People and their disabilities should not be judged based on stereotypes. 

If you think you know what someone wants, how they feel, or what is best for them, think again. You should consult them for any questions concerning what you should do, how you should proceed, what language and vocabulary to use, or what support you should provide. It is recommended that you use that person as your first and most significant source of information.

Keep in mind to face the user rather than the interpreter, which may necessitate a little extra effort on your part. Additionally, for individuals with hearing impairments, consider utilizing the best hearing aid app for Android, which can enhance communication and ensure a better understanding of your message.

A person with a disability who prefers something one way does not necessarily suggest that another person with the same condition likes it that way as well. By following stereotypes, you’re removing their individuality.

Before you offer assistance, ensure that you have permission. 

Before you assist someone, please inquire whether they would like assistance. In other circumstances, a person with a handicap may appear to be struggling yet is perfectly fine and would prefer to accomplish the work independently. Pay attention to the person’s cues and ask questions if you are unsure of what to do. It is pretty OK for someone to decline your offer of aid.

Talk directly to the user instead of speaking to the interpreter, attendant, or buddy. 

You are not required to disregard the others completely, but you must ensure that your contact with the user is focused. A user who is deaf and has an interpreter accompanying them will keep their gaze fixed on the interpreter while you are speaking. Keep in mind to face the user rather than the interpreter, which may necessitate a little extra effort on your part.

You can also lower yourself down so that you are in the line of sight of a person in a wheelchair, especially if you are conversing with them for an extended time. This will save the person from straining their neck to look at you.

Maintain a normal tone of voice. 

Some people tend to speak louder and slower while speaking to people with impairments; avoid doing so. 

If a person has physical disabilities, they do not necessarily have a cognitive disability, are hard of hearing, or are fully deaf. For instance, a person with cerebral palsy uses a wheelchair, has uncontrollable upper body movements, and has difficulties speaking. However, they still have excellent hearing, cognitive abilities, and IQ.

When conversing with someone with difficulties communicating, pay close attention to what they’re saying.

Instead of correcting or speaking for the other person, be patient and wait for them to finish what they’re saying. If necessary, ask brief or closed-ended inquiries that require only a nod or shake of the head as an answer. 

If you are having difficulties understanding something, don’t pretend that you do. Instead, repeat what you have heard and let the other person reply to it. The response will allow you to understand what they’re trying to tell.

When referring to people with disabilities, use “people-first” language unless they prefer an alternative way of expressing themselves. 

Put, people-first language means that the person is prioritized over the disability. Instead of “a man who is blind,” say “a blind man,” and “a lady who utilizes a wheelchair” rather than “a wheelchair-bound woman,” etc. When dealing with people who have impairments and speaking and writing about people who have disabilities, always put the person before the situation.

Always remember that different individuals have varied preferences regarding terminology. Consult with the person you are interacting with on the best way to use phrases and terms around them.


If you regularly greet individuals with a handshake, extend the same courtesy to people with disabilities. Treat people with disabilities as equally as you would treat anyone else, both verbally and physically. People with disabilities are, above all, individuals with human rights. What is crucial to remember is that we are all unique and need to be acknowledged for what we can accomplish rather than what we may require assistance to do.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.