Hello everybody, What should you do when you see someone with a disability? How about, saying Hi!

chandlerToday I watched some videos on Cerebral Palsy. These videos were very short and to the point. These videos were PSAs about how to speak to a person with a disability. In one of these videos, actor William H. Macy was asked, “How do you say hello to a person with a disability?” “Umm, Hi.” It might be plain and simple, but it is the truth. These videos say to just say “hello” to a person with any disability, we are just like everybody else. The PSA’s are basically telling you that you should not be afraid to talk to us, because we will most like to have a conversation with you.

When people think of talking to a person with disabilities, they often get scared to hold a conversation with that person. As it turns out, we are not that scary at all.  We get along well with other people. In fact, I’ve been told by some people that I light up a room when I come through the door. At the retirement home where I volunteer, the residents are always happy to see me when I arrive. One of them actually gave me a picture yesterday of elephants that she colored. This person asked me what my favorite animal and flower were so that in the future, she could paint one for me. The residents of this community don’t see a person with a disability; they see a person that they can talk to. People with disabilities can do extraordinary things.

To prove my point, I have been asked to go out and visit state legislators to tell my story. This way, my opinions can be heard. I think that is extraordinary for a 19 year old high school student. I never had a voice until now. People used to always cut me off and now I have found a way to get people to listen directly to me. Now back to the point of just saying hello. Most of the time when you see a person with a disability on the street, I think they would love to have a conversation with you. Especially if it’s me, I could talk your ear off all day. But if you’re the one that has to initiate a conversation with a person with a disability, here are some tips for you. Do not be afraid of us. We will most likely talk to you, just say hello. From there you can talk about almost anything. I would avoid asking questions about their disability unless it comes up naturally in conversation or that person brings it up themselves. For instance, I would not ask them the question “So how did you get in the wheelchair?” If that is not coming from a child that question would offend me immensely.  A child I can understand, they are always curious and I am happy to answer any child that asked me that question. As far as adults go, I would get offended if an adult asked me that same question.

Another way not to start a conversation with a person that has a disability is asking them, “So, do you like to be disabled?” I would answer that question with a resounding “NO!” Honestly, those are the questions you should stay away from. The videos I watched were very self-explanatory. For people that hesitate to talk to a person with a disability, I think it would be useful for these people to watch these videos. The videos are on the “What If…” campaign Facebook page LINK to What IF. They are each only about 30 seconds long. That is all the people needed in order to get the short, but powerful message out there. Now I want to see what your responses are to the videos. Do you have the same response that I do?

Question… Do you think we are going to get any snow this year? I hope not, I’d rather get out June 17th and not the 27th. But, we’ll just have to wait and see. Do you like snow? I’m just curious.