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Karen Wang
BY Karen Wang

25 Ways you can #MakeATinyChange for Disability Acceptance

When you think of the phrase “disability awareness” or “disability acceptance,” do you file it away under “Somebody Else’s Problem?”

Well, I’m here to tell you that disability acceptance is everybody’s problem.  When citizens are unable to navigate everyday tasks and find employment because of disability, taxpayers must cover their care.  The UK organization Autism & ADHD has proposed a way to approach disability acceptance in its free 10 page e-book and #MakeATinychange campaign.  If every person makes one tiny change in the way they interact with others, we can all teach life skills and promote personal independence.

Here are 25 simple changes you can make in everyday situations to facilitate communication and improve everyone’s quality of life.  It may take a few extra minutes of your time, but it won’t cost a penny.

1. Say hello to someone who is having a hard time.

2. Greet someone by name.

3. Be patient at the post office or grocery store.

4. Presume competence.

5. Sit next to someone who is alone at morning services.

6. When asking questions, offer options.  For example: do you prefer company right now or do you need to be alone?

7. Give advance notice for changes in routine.

8. Instead of criticizing an action, explain what the person should be doing in a positive way.

9. Say thank you to someone you’ve never thanked before.

10. When you’re losing patience, stop yourself and speak kindly.

11. If a person isn’t making eye contact, don’t assume it’s rudeness. Assume that the person is listening respectfully.

12. Ask someone if there’s something you can do to help.  There’s a  time to get involved and a time to mind your own business.  Know the difference!

13. Ask permission before making physical contact.

14. Enunciate your words clearly and use direct language.

15. Turn down the volume!!!!

16. Be aware that lighting, sound and smells may be overwhelming and cause a person to leave a room suddenly.

17. Leave the wheelchair accessible bathroom stall and parking spot for someone who truly needs them.

18. Hold the door open for the person behind you.

19. Let the person behind you at the supermarket checkout with one or two items go ahead of you.

20. Offer to return a shopping cart to the store for someone loading groceries in their car.

21. Don’t shout across the room – go up and talk to a person.

22. If someone is in your personal space or speaking too loudly to you, politely request boundaries. Don’t assume the other person is deliberately trying to offend.  Every person has different sensitivities and personal boundaries.

23. Allow extra room for wheelchairs to maneuver in crowded public areas.

24. Not all mobility impairments are readily visible.  If someone seems unsteady, help him or her get access to a handrail or bench.

25. Don’t interrupt – some people take longer to express a complete thought.

How will you make a tiny change today?  More ideas are being shared on social media with the hashtag #MakeATinyChange.

Karen Wang

Written on April 13, 2015 by:

Karen Wang is a Friendship Circle parent. You may have seen her sneaking into the volunteer lounge for ice cream or being pushed into the cheese pit by laughing children. She is a contributing author to the anthology "My Baby Rides the Short Bus: The Unabashedly Human Experience of Raising Kids With Disabilities"
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