Believe it or not, I don’t always sit around thinking about disability, or having a disability. Now, I’m not going to lie. I spend quite a bit of time thinking about it. I think about how I can be more involved in advocacy and what can I personally do to help the disability right movement even if my efforts are miniscule compared to the movement as a whole. But when ‘I’m with my family at a waterpark, it’s not on my mind every single minute. Like it’s not on my mind as I’m walking down the hall with my sister and my niece and I run into some who says ”Hey, did you go to York high school?” I answered yes. “When did you graduate?” “2004” “What did she say?” the guy asks my sister, who I was clearly with. “2004” my sister repeated. “It was good seeing you,” the guy says and walks away. Ok so this wasn’t the conversation verbatim, but it’s a pretty good representation of how it went which leads to the big lesson. ` And I was tempted to launch into some big explanation for the guy about how he didn’t really approach this situation in the best manner considering the fact I have given disability awareness presentations which include a role play about this EXACT SAME SITUATIION.
Anyhow, If you’re talking to someone, who is hard to understand, ask them first, to repeat themselves. Not the person who they’re with. Now if you still can’t understand them, you could ask them to write down what they’re saying, and then if they can’t write it down and they are with a companion, it’s fine to ask the person they’re with for clarification but it is much much appreciated if you put in a little effort before resorting to the last solution. Now this scenario isn’t necessarily transferrable to everyone with a disability. Some people are non verbal for instance. Some people with cerebral have very severe speech issues and they might then use a different form of communication like a board that they type on. But if you ever find yourself in this situation where you encounter someone like me who is not nonverbal but may be difficult to understand, make an effort, a good one, first to understand them and let them, in whatever way they can do so, be the one to communicate their feelings. Now, just to clarify, I’m not mad that this happened. I’ve run into other situations where similar things have happened. But, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to not use it as a teachable moment for others when I have the opportunity.