Disability isn’t equal to incapability and abnormality. Because of their impairment, people with disabilities usually become left out of society. Sadly, not all people who acknowledge the disability community know little about respecting them. Worse, many people are being ableist, either purposefully or not, due to their lack of disability awareness and education. 

5 Things About Respecting The Disability Community You Need to Know

Thankfully, several communities and organizations help people with disabilities to live their lives conveniently. There are some great advocacy groups all over the world, such as Focus Care, that offers disability support in Sydney, helping its clients to live life on their own terms.

You can learn more about how these organizations offer comprehensive services to the disability community, including recreation, family and caregiver support, financial planning, housing, and career guidance. The Stone Rose Law team has some great resources for veterans and the additional assistance they need.

The best thing you can do to help disabled veterans is to help them connect with organizations specializing in the assistance they need. You can also donate to many of these excellent organizations. 

As an individual, here are five tips on how you can show your respect to people with disabilities that you may encounter in your everyday life:

Treat Them As Humans, Not For Their Disability

Individuals with disabilities are often treated differently. However, every person with a disability deserves to be treated with respect. This is not because they have a disability you don’t possess but because they’re no different from you. Also, displaying agitation and special treatment is disrespectful to them, not the other way around.

Simply put, one’s disability doesn’t define who one entirely is. If speaking to someone with a disability, just be yourself and show respect!

Never Look And Talk Down As A Sign Of Pity

Another huge disrespect the disability community encounters regularly is how most people pity them for their conditions. It’s an insult on their part to be seen as individuals who got it worse in life because of their unique situations.

Moreover, many people talk to individuals with disabilities as babies or kneel when talking to them. As much as possible, talk to them at eye level to keep them from feeling inferior. Sitting on a table or chair to reduce physical differences will also do.

Reconsider Your Language Choices & Don’t use the R-word!

Words can highly wound a person. When talking about anything related to the disability community, even without its members’ presence, always be careful with your choice of language. For example, those in the autism community prefer to be referred to as autistic instead of a person with autism. However, this is an individual decision. If the individual with autism requests you say “with autism,” respecting that request is a must.

For instance, calling a person the R-word (retard, retarded) is offensive and considered hate speech. While often aimed at people with a ‘cognitive or learning disability, it has become prevalent in social media. Always emphasize the person first rather than their disability.

The R-word, also known as the R-slur, is a hurtful term that remains prevalent throughout social media, according to a Kantar Social Listening study. The research shows that when social media users are posting about people with intellectual disabilities, 7 in every 10 of those posts are negative, and 6 in 10 contain a slur.

While “mental retardation” was originally introduced as a medical term in 1961 for people with intellectual disabilities, in the decades since, the R-word has become an insult used all too commonly in everyday language. Those who use the R-word often do so with little regard for the pain it causes people with intellectual disabilities—and the exclusion it perpetuates in our society.


Here are other offensive terms you may be using but are entirely unaware of:

  • Disabled, deformed, or handicapped person: A person with a disability
  • Cripple: Person requiring mobility assistance
  • Emotionally disturbed: A person with an emotional disability

Respecting The Disability Community

Don’t Touch Their Equipment Without Permission.

Assistive technology, such as wheelchairs, canes, hearing aids, and artificial limbs, are personal spaces for people with disabilities. It’s disrespectful to meddle with these pieces of equipment, let alone touch them.

Secondly, this applies to service animals as well. Whether it is a Seeing Eye Dog, PTSD service animal, mobility assistance dog, seizure/diabetes alert dog, or emotional support animal, do not touch the animal or interfere. These animals are working to keep their person safe and be able to do everyday things that others take for granted.

Speak To The Person First, Not Their Caregiver

A person with a disability may have a caregiver with them. However, it’s impolite to approach their caregiver first if you wish to talk to the individual with a disability.

Many people think it would be better to call the caregiver’s attention as talking directly to people with a speech impediment or mental disability can make communication less efficient. Doing so will make them feel incapable and different, so make it a point to approach them first.

Respecting The Disability Community

Respecting the disabled community must keep them from feeling incapable or different. So, keep the above tips in mind to further empower this misunderstood sector. That all said, remember that individuals with disabilities are people before anything else. The best first step is to say “Hi.”

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