When you are disabled you can expect people to say things that are rude and uncalled for. What you shouldn’t have to expect is being discriminated against but unfortunately, it happens to a lot of disabled people. Most people who are abled never have the problem of being discriminated against but that may not be the case if you have a disability. How do you handle these situations? Handling a situation like this properly is very important or else you could make the situation worse. I have personally been discriminated against and was very hurt by this behavior but I was able to fix the problem by doing a simple few things.
In one of my volunteer positions, I worked with a girl who refused to sit next to me, have any conversation, or touch any papers that I touched but I soon learned it was because of my disability. She thought that I was contagious! Since I was very hurt by her actions I confronted her and told her that my disability is not contagious and she could not catch it! As soon as I reassured her that she could not catch my disability she started acting like we were best friends. An apology would have gone a long way but since she did not give me one pursuing a friendship was never going to be an option.
Apologize- Sometimes when we say something to somebody what we have said can come out totally wrong and hurt their feelings. Instead of getting on the defensive, apologize and explain yourself because that says a lot about a person. Put on your big girl pants and apologize because we all make mistakes and all that really matters is that we are trying to get better and fix these mistakes. You don’t do that by ignoring someone’s feelings!
Confrontation- Before you take any legal action for being discriminated against have a conversation! Let that person know they have hurt your feelings because for all you know they may not be aware that anything is bothering you. When I was discriminated against it was from a teenager so having a conversation worked for me at that time but if they were an adult I may have had different results. Some abled people aren’t educated about disabilities so they don’t know how to talk to us and they think that we need to be treated differently from the rest of society. It’s okay to not have all the answers but its never okay to treat someone that way and explaining that to them may help them understand that so they don’t do it to somebody else.
Report it- If you have been discriminated against by a business or by someone who honestly doesn’t care about your feelings then you have no other choice but to report it! It may feel wrong at first and you may have convinced yourself there has to be a better way but sometimes there isn’t and doing nothing about it will not teach that person anything so they may think that behavior is okay and do it to somebody! This is never okay and should not be ignored! Disabled people deserve the same amount of respect as an abled person and this behavior should not be tolerated or go unnoticed.
Being discriminated against is very hurtful and no one should have to experience it. If you are disabled, you are more likely to have experienced discrimination than if you were abled. You can have questions about our disability but it is never okay to discriminate against them and act like we have some contagious disease. Avoiding disabled people because you think you may catch it is rude and if you ever have questions or concerns about our disability just ask because that is more polite than sitting as far away from us as you possibly can. When you treat disabled people like we have some contagious disease it may seem like we don’t notice or care because we don’t always call you out on it right away but most likely we are more aware of it than you think and are very hurt by these actions. Disabled people are just different and if you stopped avoiding them and took the time to get to know them you may realize it is not as scary as you think being disabled. If you have any questions about what you should do if you are discriminated against please leave them in the comments below.