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Dealing with LGBT Attitudinal Barriers Relating to Disability

The lawmakers of the Americans with Disability Act or the ADA recognized the serious impediments to access for people with disabilities, However, there are also problems of attitude. An attitudinal barrier is defined as a way of thinking or feeling that results in behavior which limits the potential of people with disabilities to function independently.
Attitudes toward people with disabilities have been explored and three important assumptions can be noted:

1. A small percentage of people have openly negative attitudes that are associated with prejudice, fear, ignorance, intolerance, insensitivity, discrimination,
dislike, condescension, and the like. They subscribe to most of the myths surrounding disabilities, even in the face of documented evidence to the contrary.

2. The vast majority of the American public is neither positive nor negative-toward people with disabilities. Their general reaction is one of massive and
deliberate indifference. They just prefer not to think about disability at all.

3. This indifference is rooted in a perfectly natural psychological phenomenon in which, when we think about or encounter disability, we must think about
and deal with the fragility of our own health and ultimately our own mortality. To do so is unpleasant and uncomfortable for most people.

Avoiding this discomfort has cost us as a society too much. Any indifference, unpleasantness, or discomfort felt, any attitudinal barriers that may have
been erected around the issue of disability must be removed!

Examples of Attitudinal Barriers

Negative attitudes associated with prejudice, fear, ignorance, intolerance, insensitivity, discrimination, dislike and condescension:

* showing a lack of dignity and respect

* shouting instead of speaking in a normal voice

* not making eye contact or face-to-face interaction

* not listening attentively

* interrupting when he/she is speaking

* – showing a lack of patience and tolerance

* – not being sensitive to special needs

* – not acknowledging his/her point of view

* – using inappropriate, non-inclusive language

* – using negative body language and facial expressions

* – disconfirmation

* – lack of acceptance

* – treating adults like children

* – ignoring the person rather than asking if you can assist

* Deliberate indifference:

* – lack of necessary accommodations such as Braille and large print materials, audio information, TTY, assistive listening devices, TV captioning and decoders,
readers, interpreters.

* – not wanting to allow service animal into establishment

* – not introducing as you would others

* – not shaking hands as you do with others

* – not concerned with accessibility issues

* – lack of clear communication

* – not speaking directly to the person

* – being rude or dismissive

* – unthinkingly asking personal questions

* – making him/her feel conspicuous or embarrassed

* – ignoring the person rather than asking if you can assist

Suggestions to Improve Positive Interactions with People Who Are Disabled

Ask the person if they need assistance. And if they do, ask them how you can help them. Offer assistance if you wish, but never insist.

Focus on the person, rather than on their disability.

Use appropriate language.

Listen to them, and do not interrupt.

Treat them as an adult with dignity and respect.

Be patient and polite.

Remember to Just Ask! and then listen ….

A person with a disability is the expert about his or her disability! So as you can see, it doesn’t take much to erase the fear…

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