Business Resources and Services from Disability Awareness Author / Speaker Gary Karp

Workplace Disability Etiquette – Helping

It Looks Difficult to Live with a Disability, Doesn't It?!

On a daily basis, people with disabilities get offered help. Sometimes it isn't offered, it's forced on them!

People participating in Modern Disability Etiquette Workshops often report that, when they encounter a person with a disability, they think, "Should I help?" "How am I supposed to know what to do?"

They want to be seen just as the people they are, and often that is obstructed around the issue of whether they need help.

The help issue can be very stressful – and distracting from making an authentic connection between two people with similar interests or a shared goal to achieve.

And so, when it comes to helping...

  • It's always OK to ask if you think someone needs help.A Little More
  • You don't need to worry about whether you should help.A Little More
  • If someone is rude, it's not because they have a disability.A Little More
  • Never impose help on someone.A Little More
  • If someone needs help, they'll ask, and then guide you.A Little More
  • Exactly because someone has a disability, they have, by definition, lost some degree of control and independence. When you impose help, you actually rob them of something very precious.

    Remember Disability Etiquette Principle #2: Preserve Their Independence.


    Remember general principle number three – they are the experts. Trust them to know their limits, and let them be an equal partner in being helped if that is the choice.
    When you force yourself on someone, you are robbing her of precious independence. You also might get in the way or even endanger her
    People have bad days. People have rude personalities. Don't assume someone is angry because of having a disability.
    Your interaction with them does not need to be based on whether they might need help. Relax and trust that they'll let you know if they need it.
    Asking someone if they need help (having considered if you think he actually might) gives him the respect of having choice. He is the expert!