Continued from page 1
3. Offer assistance when necessary. You see a woman in a wheelchair having trouble entering a building or negotiating steps. You'd like to help, but don't want to embarrass her. What should you do?
It's usually appropriate to lend a hand if someone is having obvious difficulty, but keep in mind that not everyone will be willing to accept your help. It's not much different than pulling over and offering assistance to a motorist with a flat tire. Unless woman in wheelchair is in danger, it isn't necessary to press issue 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 challenge to face. How do you feel when you are treated differently for being bald, short, or heavyset? Like you, a disabled person would much rather be accepted for who they are, rather than be pitied or shunned because of a disability. Many friends and colleagues have said to me, "I often forget that you are blind." To me, that is ultimate compliment.
Meeting someone with a disability doesn't have to be an intimidating experience. Asking questions, offering assistance, and putting yourself in their shoes can go a long way toward 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 process.
Stephen Michael Kerr is the publisher of Adaptive Sports & Recreation, a free ezine devoted to sports for people with disabilities. To read previous issues, visit: http://archives.zinester.com/41809