Understanding Persons with Disabilities

The wheelchair is a common mobility aid for those with mobility challenges. Wheelchairs enable people with disabilities to get around and allow them to participate in community activities. Some of us may feel awkward interacting with wheelchair users for the first time.

Here are some communication tips for you when you speak to a wheelchair user:

  • When talking to a person who uses wheelchair, look at and speak directly to that person, rather than through a companion.
  • Relax and speak naturally. Do not be embarrassed if you happen to use accepted common expressions such as “got to be running along” that seem to relate to the person’s disability.

When talking with a person in a wheelchair for more than a few minutes, use a chair, whenever possible. This can put you at a person’s eye level and facilitate conversation.
Do not lean on the person’s wheelchair unless you have permission to do so. A wheelchair is part of an individual’s personal space.

To find out more on interacting with people with disabilities, a new booklet titled ‘Understanding Persons with Disabilities’ is now available for download here. The booklet is compiled by SPD’s Advocacy and Public Education Department to help increase awareness of the needs of persons with disabilities.

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