I prefer Disabled, but today is H, so I’ll go with Handicap.
First of all, not all disabilities are obvious, so stop judging. In addition to visual physical challenges, there are chronic illnesses, mental disabilities, and the ever so lucky temporary situations. Seriously, STOP JUDGING. And if you are one of the few who is not affected by your or a loved one’s disability…….Be grateful.
Be respectful. I don’t mean just opening the door for someone using a walker; although that is appreciated so continue to do so. Don’t stare; it’s not nice. People with disabilities can feel like they are in a fish bowl; please don’t feed that. You know that handicap parking space and the striped (gore) area around it? If you don’t have the credentials; don’t use it. Nope, not even to run into the store and especially not to return that DVD.
Become educated: Disabled people come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. The ADA that was signed in 1990, I know it wasn’t that long ago, is described as a civil rights legislation. In my personal experience, when someone’s actions take away the civil rights of another, it is due to the first person’s ignorance of the second person and their situation. Your actions will teach future generations.
Be helpful: Let a parent know they can meet with school officials so that compensations can be made for their child, no matter what the disability. Trust me, if they don’t know, school officials are not likely to be the ones to tell them. Offer to help the mom whose child broke a leg and will be in a cast for 3 months. Stand up for a co-worker who may not know that your employer is by-stepping the law. Be an advocate for a friend or a loved one and help them navigate the red tape.
But most of all, Be Human. No one walks in and says, “Hey, I’ll take the Handicapped Card, cause I’d like my life to be more difficult.” As a rule of thumb, Be Human to everyone, cause you just never know what they might be carrying around.