Is it OK to ask if someone has a disability? --RSS Feed

By Michael Hineberg, Independent Living Services Coordinator
Say you have a coworker who does things a little differently than most people. You notice he ends conversations awkwardly; she avoids eye contact; he has a unique gait. Maybe he or she has a disability. Your curiosity is consuming you. Should you ask, how do you ask? After acquiring my disability 42 years ago, I have encountered a variety of curious people, ranging from the innocently inquisitive to the rude and blunt interrogators. Once a man actually said, “What’s wrong with you?”
Asking depends on motive and timing. If you are strangers, don’t ask. But if you have a relationship such as a coworker, a budding friendship or at least good rapport with that person, then, in my opinion, you can ask. If your motive is to understand this person as a friend or most effectively work with them as a coworker, then it’s OK to ask.
Most importantly, realize that it is the person with a disability’s right to say as much or as little as he or she chooses to tell you. He or she might welcome the question or might be insulted. It will vary from person to person. We all have different personalities and life experiences. I always say, empathy is the key to healthy interaction. Put yourself in the other person’s braces (shoes).
Call me at 414-226-8376 V/Relay if you would like to discuss this.

| Wednesday, 6/20/2018 - 2:56 PM | 0 comments
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