Don’t be THAT person.
Try this, instead.
If you’re trying to help a person with a disability, it can feel complicated. You don’t know what it’s like being in a wheelchair; having low vision; or experiencing flashbacks.
If you’ve never experienced it yourself, how can you relate?
The answer is simple: Listen.
It’s quite likely our preferences, needs and wants are different than what you think.
You may think I, a wheelchair user, need help opening a door, but I do not.
You may think a blind person may be lost, but that may not be the case.
You may think a person who is deaf can’t hear you, but that does not mean they aren’t listening.
Merriam-Webster defines the word listen as “to hear something with thoughtful attention.”
I would revise that to say, “to hear something with your heart and with thoughtful attention.” That means setting your phone aside when you’re talking with someone, and that also means prioritizing your desire to truly understand another human being.
Persons with disabilities just want to feel heard, seen and understood. I imagine the same can be said about you.
So, if you truly want your friend with a disability to feel that way, ask them how they would like to be helped and listen.
If they don’t need help opening doors, then don’t help them opening doors.
If your blind friend knows exactly where they’re going, trust them.
If your deaf friend is capable of lip reading, kudos to them.
Don’t, at the end of the day, do the opposite of what a person tells you, even if it feels “hard for you to watch.”
Otherwise, things will get awkward.
If you’re ready to celebrate and advocate the individuals with disabilities you serve, let’s do a video together.
Send me a note, and we’ll make a difference together.