This might be bad for my street cred but I have to admit that occasionally, I go with my mum to bingo. Well, it’s a few hours out the house and it gets me out of bedtime duty!
But on a recent visit, I have to say that I was both flattered and offended by the staff. As we arrived, one member of staff approached Mum and said, “I’m sorry to have to ask but is she 18?”, referring to me. At almost 33, the question was of course flattering but just because I’m in a wheelchair, it was directed at Mum rather than me. “Yes, I am”, I quickly answered, hoping to make the point that disability didn’t equal stupidity.
Once inside, the manager failed to show any more awareness, by asking Mum if I’d like to choose a prize. Why he asked me, I’m not sure but we accepted a cuddly toy to take home to my little boy.
These are just two recent examples but I have hundreds more of where staff have been unsure of how to approach me or how best to help me. These incidents aren’t malicious or meant to upset me; that’s why I take it on the chin. Many people are just not very confident when interacting or communicating with disabled people.
If you’re interested in my Disability Etiquette Workshop, I can share more real examples and teach your team to confidently serve disabled customers. I can go through the right and wrong things to say, the misconceptions about disability and how to offer and provide assistance.