In 2008, I received some materials from the Indiana Governor's Council for People with Disabilities (GCPD) in celebration of Disability Awareness Month in March.
Included in the package of materials was this bookmark.
The front says:
Attitude is Everything.
When you champion a winning attitude for yourself and your team, you can achieve anything.
The back says:
Choose Words Wisely.
- Put people first. Instead of saying "the blind boy," say "the boy who is blind."
- Focus on what someone can do, not on what he can't do.
- Say "my friend has a disability" rather than "my friend is handicapped."
- Treat people equally. Don't feel sorry for or go overboard in how you treat people with a disability just to make them "feel" better.
- Give the person a chance to say something or to do an activity on his own. Like you, he has ideas and talents to contribute.
- Wait to offer help until someone is ready or asks for help.
- It's okay to ask questions when you're unsure of what to do.
I can tell you that these truly are words of wisdom. They make a difference. :)
Especially important to me is the 1st statement. I do a kind of "mental cringe" when someone refers to a child with Down syndrome as a "Down's kid."
I'd like to add something to the 5th statement. Not only give the person a chance to say something, but also wait for the person to say something. Often, T is slower than is typical when he responds.
And...the 6th statement is a big reminder to myself! Too often, I find myself trying to help T when either he wants to try to do it without help or he is capable of doing it by himself. :P