Two thirds of Brits say they feel awkward around disabled people. Some people feel so awkward they avoid disabled people all together.
Since disabled people make up about 1 in 5 of the British population, that’s a lot of time feeling pretty uncomfortable. It’s time to put a stop to it.
End the Awkward is our campaign aimed at helping people feel more comfortable about disability. The campaign uses humour to get people thinking differently.
Tips when you meet a disabled person
- Ask them their name and go from there.
Disabled people have names like everyone else. Remember their impairment isn’t who they are.
- Get to know them, the same way you would anyone else.
“How was your weekend?” “Rubbish weather, isn’t it?” You get the idea. Disabled people often get asked personal questions like "Can you have sex?”. This would be an awkward question for anyone.
- People’s impairments aren’t always physical and can’t always be seen.
Don’t assume disabled people will look or act a certain way.
- When offering to help, ask first and listen to what they say.
You’re trying to do a good thing, so be cool if your offer is turned down. Wading in isn’t always needed or wanted.
- Remember everyone is different.
For more tips, watch our End the Awkward videos on YouTube.
Talking about disability
Some disabled people may use controversial language when talking about themselves. That’s their choice, but it doesn’t mean they’d be happy for you to use it.
There are some words that many disabled people find hurtful or harsh because they:
- suggest disabled people are helpless
- are pitying
- are often used abusively.
Here are some tips on language that most people prefer:
|You could say||Never say |
Person with Dwarfism
People with Dwarfism
Person with a learning difficulty
People with learning difficulties
Person with Down's Syndrome
People with Down's Syndrome
Person with Downs
|Challenges of mental health|
A wheelchair user
Confined to a wheelchair
Read more about the social model of disability.
Behind the awkward
End the Awkward is a light-hearted campaign, but it addresses a serious issue. Attitudes towards disabled people are better than 20 years ago, but we still have a long way to go.
This campaign is one part of our wider research, policy and campaign work. We speak out against negative attitudes and campaign on all kinds of issues disabled people face.
With this campaign, we have tried to find a way to get people talking about disability and to break down some of the barriers that exist between disabled people and the general public.