wrote a great article that appears here in Arisia's "Clear Ether newsletter" http://2011.arisia.org/sites/2011.arisia.org/files/clearEtherSat.pdf
If you have trouble with the PDF here is the text:
What Anyone Can Do to Make Arisia More Accessible
by Alicia "Kestrell" Verlager 2010 Access Services leader firstname.lastname@example.org
As a disability advocate, the question I am most often asked is, is it okay to offer to help someone with a disability?".
The answer is "Yes, but it often depends on how you do the asking."
Here are three considerations to keep in mind:
[Note to printer: the first letter of each of these three paragraphs should be bolded so that they obviously spell out AID.]
Ask before assuming.
People with disabilities often develop ways of doing things which may look slow or inefficient to others, but which work best for them and, if they do wish for assistance, it may be for only a specific aspect of a task. For instance, when being guided, blind people do not need to be led or supported, but only need to lightly touch a guide's elbow in order to follow that person.
So you might ask a person "Would you like assistance?" and, if they say yes, then ask "What would you like me to do?".
As a blind person, I like to have a name to go with the voice, but this also works to identify context, as in "Hi, my name's Kestrell and I'm an Arisia volunteer. Can I help you?"
Don't grab, push, pull, yell, or otherwise invade a person's space.
Aside from issues of respect, many people with disabilities may have mobility or pain issues which are aggravated by having people touching them. Also realize that a person's cane, wheelchair, or other such device functions as an extension of their body and the same "don't touch" rules apply to these devices. Lastly, *please* don't feel that you are the exception to the rule that it is rude to pet guide dogs that are in harness and working.
If you want to user her article, she has been very generous about sharing it, if you aske her nicely! :)Edited at 2012-02-13 05:57 pm (UTC)