End the Awkward: the basics

Two-thirds of people say they feel awkward when they meet disabled people. Worried about what to say? Not sure how to act? Don’t worry, we’re here to help with these tips.

Video describing Five awkward things to avoid doing when you meet a disabled person
Read the transcript for "Five awkward things to avoid doing when you meet a disabled person"

End the Awkward: the basics

Five awkward things to avoid doing when you meet a disabled person

 

Our research shows that a whopping two-thirds of people say they feel awkward when they meet disabled people.

We know that this awkwardness is often because people are worried about saying or doing the wrong thing, so they avoid disabled people all together.

We want to make sure this isn’t happening, so we’ve got some handy tips to help everyone feel more confident around disability.

What not to do

Describe someone as ‘the disabled one’

Disabled people have names like everyone else. Their impairment isn’t who they are. Ask someone their name and go from there. 

 

Ask inappropriate questions 

"Can you have sex?” is an awkward question for anyone. Disabled people often get bombarded with questions you wouldn’t ask a complete stranger.

Start by getting to know a disabled person the same way you would anyone else. “How was your weekend?” “Rubbish weather, isn’t it?” You get it.

 

Make assumptions 

The person you’re speaking to probably knows more about their impairment than you do. Not everyone in a wheelchair is paralysed, and not every disabled person knows sign language.

Many disabled people can drive, go to the gym, play football and have a night out just like everyone else. Remember everyone’s different and can do different things. 

 

Say “you don’t look disabled” 

People’s impairments can’t always be seen and aren’t always physical. Don’t expect disabled people to look or act a certain way. 

 

Assume people want or need your help

You’re trying to do a good thing, but wading in and giving help isn’t always needed. Offer to help if it seems like someone would like some, but:

  • Ask in what way you can help, and follow what they say. They’re in charge

  • Be cool if your offer is turned down 

And remember, if in doubt, H.I.D.E

Say Hi, 
Introduce yourself, 
Don’t panic,
End the Awkward.  

If you say or do something awkward it’s not the end of the world. Apologise, laugh it off, but don’t let it finish your conversation. Awkward moments happen all the time, but if you focus on seeing the person, not their impairment, you can’t go far wrong.

 

Find out more about End the Awkward