Tag Archives: awkward situations

Disability Etiquette

Disability is a natural experience of life.  At some point we will experience a disability with oneself or someone we love.  With that in mind, remember the golden rule and always try to treat and speak to others in the same manner you would want to be treated.

Don’t Judge

Do you like being told what you can or cannot do?  Have you ever been labeled unfairly?  People with disabilities experience this regularly.  Don’t assume a person with a disability cannot do the same activities or tasks that others can do.  They just might have to do them differently. Give them a chance to try or simply ask them.

Visible vs. Invisible

Just because people don’t have a disability you can see doesn’t mean they aren’t disabled.  For example, in my “I am disABLED” story that I wrote a few months ago on this blog, I shared my story of Usher’s Syndrome.  When people notice I wear hearing aids they will automatically think I am hard of hearing, but what they don’t know unless I share it with them, is that I also have night blindness.  Overall, most people don’t view me as having a disability because they know me as a person and completely forget that I have Usher’s Syndrome.  Remember, just because you can’t see something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist!


There is always a small amount of fear or nervousness anytime we experience something new such as interacting with someone who has a disability.  Even people with disabilities may experience the same fears when meeting other people with different disabilities.  When interacting with someone with a disability it is important to relax.  People with disabilities use the same expressions and phrases such as “take a walk” or “see you later.”  Don’t avoid talking to them because you fear saying the wrong thing, using the wrong terms or offending the person you are talking to.  It is also important to show respect and to talk to the person with the disability rather than talking about them to the person they are with.

Disability vs. Handicapped

There is a distinction between the words “disability” and “handicapped.”  Disability is a condition caused by an accident, trauma, genetics or disease, which may limit a person’s mobility, hearing, vision, speech or mental function.  Handicap is a physical or attitudinal constraint that is imposed upon a person, regardless of whether that person has a disability.  Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines handicap as to “put at a disadvantage.”

Additional Etiquette Tips

To learn more about terminology and disability etiquette please refer to the Your Words Our Image poster and this article with more detailed information.

Written by Lara’s Sister, Beth Combes

To read more of Beth’s story, click here


Filed under Getting Real, Life, People, Relationships

{Etiquette 101}

Are we the only ones who don’t always know the right and proper thing to do in social settings?  Ok, I know that is a rhetorical question because from time to time I’m guessing 99.9% of the population finds themselves in that awkward situation.  You want to do the right thing in a social setting, but you just don’t know what that “RiGhT ThiNg” is.  So, The Suede Sofa is taking the subject of etiquette head-on.  We’re hoping to address some of those situations as they come up.  Our plan?  When they do come up we’ll do some research via the internet, books, people, etc. and then we’ll share with you what we find.  Some of these situations may be things we have already learned.  If you have some AwKwArD situations you would like the Suede Sofa to address, let us know!  Here’s some of the ones I’m thinking of off the top of my head:

  • Making eye contact with strangers {i.e. when you are walking down the aisle in the grocery store}
  • Etiquette in interacting with people who have DiSaBiLiTiEs
  • What to do when you’re in a group of people and someone starts talking degrading of another person
  • What to say to someone to someone who has lost a loved one

So, let me leave you with this:

I did a bit of research on the first one listed {making eye contact with strangers in public places}.  And here is what I found:  In our culture (this is not the case in all cultures) making EyE cOnTaCt with strangers in a non-threatening and friendly manner is considered acceptable and looked at as being confident.  Whereas, not making eye-contact suggests weakness and a lack of self-confidence.  So, I’m working on this.  I’ll try to let you know how it goes!  The research stated that this can be really awkward and uncomfortable at first, but as you practice, it gets EaSiEr.

As we share our posts on etiquette, please give us your suggestions.  In some cases we are learning and are trying to get as much input as possible.  We appreciate your comments!



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Filed under People, Relationships, SelfImprovement, You