Semantics: the Tip of your Iceberg…

a beautiful young women with Down syndrome stands in a stunning long purple gown with a golden headpiece, in front of the purple wall of Hever castle.
Photo credit: Angela Harper

As today marks International Day of Persons with Disabilities #IDPD2018 (#PurpleLightUp) and I know many, many people feel uncomfortable around them or don’t really know how to “be” with them, how to talk to them (usually due to Lack of Exposure, the offspring of Ignorance and Outdated-Perceptions), well, here are a few very simple pointers, a few gauging tips that will not only allow you to better assess them like you would anybody else, but it will also allow THEM to better assess YOU… Yep, it  works both ways!!! And  let’s be clear on one thing, disabilities don’t make anybody a saint, so there’s no guarantee they’ll like you but I bet you’ll come out totally baffled! And whether or not you like them will stem for a reason that has NOTHING to do with disabilities, which is the whole point! I promise!

Here we go: 


How about you look at them instead of looking past them?

How about you ask them instead of assuming?

How about you communicate to them instead of keeping from them?

How about you talk to them instead of talking at them?

How about you hear them out instead of hearing them?

How about you walk with them instead of walking past them?

How about you look up to them instead of staring down at them?

How about you validate them instead of ignoring them?

How about you suggest to them instead of ordering them about?


You see, semantics are not just a few letters thrown together; they’re the tip of your iceberg.

They go hand in hand with your actions and are always fully loaded with long-lasting impacts,  either healing or wounding, elating or devastating, liberating or enslaving, engendering inclusion or rejection…

Be mindful, not just with people with disabilities but with everybody. 

Be mindful, it’s the only way to gauge people accurately.

You’ll be surprised how easy it is…

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