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Many non-disabled people get confused when they meet a person with disabilities. This is a natural reaction. We all can feel uncomfortable facing the "different".

This discomfort decreases and may even disappear when there are many opportunities of interaction between disabled and non-disabled people.

Do not pretend that disability does not exist. If you have any contact with a disabled person as if he or she did not have a disability, you will be ignoring a very important feature of it. So, you will not be having a relationship with her, but with another person, a person you invented that is not real.

Accept the disability. It exists and you need to take it into consideration. Do not underestimate the possibilities, nor overestimate the difficulties and vice versa.

People with disabilities have the right, they can and they want to take their own decisions and take the responsibility for their choices.

Having a disability does not make a person better or worse than a non-disabled one. Probably, because of the disability, that person may have difficulty in performing some activities and, on the other hand, may have extreme ability to do other things. Just like everyone else.

Most people with disabilities do not mind answering questions, especially those made by children, about their disability and how they perform some tasks. But, if you do not have much intimacy with the person, avoid asking too many personal questions.

When you want some information from a disabled person, go directly to him or her and not to their companions or interpreters.

Whenever you want to help, offer your help. Before helping, always wait until your offer is accepted. Always ask the person which is the most appropriate way to do it. But do not be offended if your offer is refused. Well, not always, people with disabilities need assistance. Sometimes, a specific task can be better performed without assistance.

If you do not feel comfortable or confident enough to do something required by a disabled person, feel free to decline. In this case, it would be convenient to find someone else who can help.

People with disabilities are people like you. They have the same rights, the same feelings, the same fears, and the same dreams.

You should not be afraid to do or say something wrong. Act naturally and everything will work out. If any embarrassing situation happens, a good deal of kindness, sincerity and good humor never fail.

The Blind People or Visually Impaired

It is not correct to say that someone is deaf-mute. Many deaf people do not talk because they haven’t learned how to speak. Many are lip readers, others not.

When you want to talk to a deaf person, if he or she is not paying attention to you, wave to the person or touch lightly on his or her arm. When talking to a deaf person, speak clearly, pronouncing the words very well, but do not overdo it. Use your normal speed, unless you are asked to speak more slowly. Use a normal tone of voice, unless you are asked to speak louder. Yelling is useless. Talk directly to the person, never beside or behind the person. Make sure your mouth is visible. Gesturing or holding something in front of the mouth makes it impossible to read lips. A mustache also makes things difficult. When talking to a deaf person, try to stay in a bright place. Avoid staying against the light (a window, for example), because it’s difficult to see your face.

If you know some sign language, try using it. If a deaf person has any difficulty understanding, he or she will let you know. In general, your attempts will be appreciated and encouraged.

Be expressive when speaking. As deaf people cannot hear subtle changes in the tone of the voice indicating some feelings of joy, sadness, sarcasm or seriousness, facial expressions, gestures and movement of your body will be essential to transmit what you mean.

While talking, keep eye contact, if you look away, the deaf person may find that the conversation is finished.

Not always the deaf person has a good pronunciation. If it is difficult to understand what the person is saying, do not be shy and ask the person to repeat. Deaf people usually do not bother to repeat as many times as it is necessary for them to be understood.

If necessary, communicate through written messages. The important thing is to communicate. The method is not so important.

When the deaf person is accompanied by an interpreter, please address to the deaf person, not to the interpreter.

Some mute people prefer written communication, some use code language and others prefer to use their own codes. These methods can be slow, they require patience and concentration. Maybe you need to take charge of most part of the conversation.

Try to remember that communication is important. You may start with yes/no questions. If possible help the mute person to find the correct word, so that he or she does not need much effort to transmit the message. But do not get anxious, it can make your conversation difficult.

How to deal with a deafblind person?

When approaching a deafblind person, let him or her be aware of your presence, just a simple touch is enough.

Whatever means of communication used, do it gently.

Arrange with him or her a sign that he or she can identify you.

Learn and use whatever method of communication that he knows. If there is a method, learn it, even if it is simple.

If there is a more appropriate method that may be useful, help him or her to learn it.

Make sure he or she notices your presence, and also that you are noticing him or her.

If he or she is able to talk, encourage him or her, even if he or she knows only a few words.

If there are other people present, let him or her know when it is the right moment for him or her to speak.

Always tell the person what’s around.

Always tell him or her when you go out, even if it is for a short time. Ensure that the person is comfortable and safe. If not, the person will need something to lean on during your absence. Put his or her hand on the thing that will be used as a support. Never leave him or her alone in an environment that is not familiar to him or her.

Stay close to him or her so that he or she gets aware of your presence.

When you two are walking, let him or her hold your arm, never push the person ahead of you.

Use simple signs to warn the person the presence of stairs, a door or a car.

A deafblind person who is holding your arm will realize any change on the way you walk.

Trust in your courtesy, consideration and common sense. Some difficulties in communication will be expected.

Use your index finger to write in the palm of the deafblind person.

Anyone who knows how to write in capital letters can do it in the hand of the deafblind person, as well as dashes, arrows, and numbers to indicate the direction, and the number of tappings in the hand which may indicate quantities.

Write only in the area of ??the palm and do not try to join the letters together. When you want to write numbers, make a dot using the indicator finger at the base of the palm, it will indicate that you are going to write a number.

People with Intellectual Disabilities

You must act naturally when addressing to a person with intellectual disability. Treat them with respect and consideration. If it is a child, treat the person as a child. If it is an adolescent, treat the person as a teenager. If it is an adult, treat as such.

Do not ignore them. Greet them and say goodbye as you would normally do with anyone.

Give attention to them, talk to them and you’ll see how fun it will be. Be natural, say kind words.

Do not over protect. Let him or her do or try to do everything he or she can do alone. Help only when really needed. Do not underestimate his or her intelligence. People with intellectual disabilities take longer to learn, but may get many intellectual and social skills.

Remember: respect is the first place and it only exists when there is an exchange of ideas, information, and desires. However great the deficiency, remember the efficiency of the person who is there.

People with intellectual disabilities are usually very king. Intellectual disabilities cannot be confused with mental illness.


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