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Disability Awareness - Disabled People, Disabilities, Discrimination And Customer Services

Updated on March 11, 2014

Article Author: Gous Ahmed

Disability Sports - Everyone is equal
Disability Sports - Everyone is equal | Source
How to deal with disabilities
How to deal with disabilities

Reactions Towards Disabled People

When we notice someone in a wheelchair, with a stick or someone visibly disabled, what reactions do we have towards them, and how do we treat them? If we sit and think about disabled people, they are no different to us. The only difference being they have a disability with which they were born with, or became disabled later on in life.

How do you feel towards disabled people? Continue reading and you will get a good understanding of disabilities, legislation, discrimination etc. By the end of it, hopefully you will think differently about disabled people.

The Definition of Disability

For the purposes of the Disability Discrimination Act:

· substantial means neither minor nor trivial

· long term means that the effect of the impairment has lasted or is likely to last for at least 12 months (there are special rules covering recurring or fluctuating conditions)

· normal day-to-day activities include everyday things like eating, washing, walking and going shopping

· a normal day-to-day activity must affect one of the 'capacities' listed in the Act which include mobility, manual dexterity, speech, hearing, seeing and memory

Some conditions, such as a tendency to set fires and hay fever, are specifically excluded.

People who have had a disability in the past that meets this definition are also covered by the scope of the Act. There are additional provisions relating to people with progressive conditions.

The DDA 2005 amended the definition of disability. It ensured that people with HIV, cancer and multiple sclerosis are deemed to be covered by the DDA effectively from the point of diagnosis, rather than from the point when the condition has some adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

Types of Disabilities

Hearing impairment Speech impairment Sight impairment

Disfigurement Wheelchair user Learning difficulties

Dyslexia Down’s syndrome Attention deficit disorder

Cerebral palsy Cystic fibrosis Spina bifida

Alzheimer’s Spinal cord injury AIDS

Arthritis Asthma Diabetes

Epilepsy Multiple sclerosis Parkinson’s


People with disabilities from significant proportion of the UK population and they should not be excluded from accessing the same facilities and services as everyone else.

You have legal responsibilities as a service provider under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).

There is a strong business case for attracting disabled customers.

The reputation of your organisation, and its’ ability to attract repeat business and word of mouth recommendations, is based on the service standards that you offer to all of your customers.

Meeting legal requirements

The DDA 1995 is a law aimed at reducing discrimination that many disabled people face.

The DDA gives disabled people rights in a number of areas, including access to goods and services.

All organisations that supply goods, facilities and services to the public are covered by the DDA, and have a duty not to discriminate against disabled people.

What is discrimination

Under the ACT, discrimination occurs when:

  • A disabled person is treated less favourably than someone else
  • The treatment is for a reason relating to a person’s disability
  • This treatment cannot be justified

When does discrimination take place?

  • If a disabled person meets with any of the following kinds of treatment, they are facing discrimination:
  • Services refused or a customer is ignored because of a reason connected with a disability, while others are treated better.
  • A worse service is provided or the disabled person is served in an inferior way.
  • The terms of service are not as good as other people obtain, including charging more or imposing extra restrictions.

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Actions that could assist a transaction with customers with a disability

  • Fitting induction loops for hearing impaired customers
  • Providing more open room and ramps to access your services for wheelchair users
  • Providing information leaflets with larger and simple fonts for sight impaired people and also provide access to documents written in Braille
  • Provide access to touch screen computers

Customers with visible disabilities

  • Wheelchair user
  • Cane user (with red stripes mean they’re deaf as well)
  • People using assistance dogs
  • Walking stick
  • Down’s syndrome
  • Disfigurement

Customers with invisible disabilities

  • Dyslexia
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • People suffering from depression
  • People with cancer

Communicating with disabled people

  • Speak clearly and keep normal facial impression, and choose appropriate words
  • Make eye contact
  • Leave some room between you and a wheelchair user when speaking to them so they do not have to bend their neck backwards to speak to you
  • Use positive body language
  • Listen carefully
  • Ask the disabled person if they require any assistance
  • Use the word “assist” (empowering) and not “help”
  • Speak to the disabled person, unless they have learning difficulties, and not the person with them
  • Obtain feedback from customers
  • Provide a high standard of service

Choosing your words

Using appropriate language when speaking to or about customers with disabilities:

  • Is courteous and sensitive to the needs of the individual
  • Shows respect for customers with disability
  • Is likely to create a favourable impression of you and your organisation

The following terms would be appropriate to use:

  • Person with a disability
  • Customer who is deaf/ hard of hearing
  • Visitor who is a wheelchair user
  • Customer with learning difficulties
  • Guest suffering cerebral palsy
  • Visitor with a spinal injury
  • Customer with a visual impairment


Disability Awareness is very important as we will come in contact with disabled people daily. Hopefully the information above will useful for anyone reading this for daily interaction with different people with different abilities and disabilities.

In the end I hope your views have changed about how you approached disability, the different kinds of disabilities and barriers faced by disabled people, and also become more aware of your interactions with disabled people, and apply the information above for a positive outlook about disability.

Talk - Short film

Below is a clip from a short film called 'Talk', which was made by Disability Rights commission (UK).

Please view the video clip and let me know what you think in the comment section, below.


How do you deal with disabilities?

What is your reaction to disabilities?

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    • profile image

      Linda bjelland 

      2 years ago

      I am starting senior disability non-emergency transportation business and Medicine Hat and I just wanted to know if I could use half of this emblem just the eye the ear and the wheelchair as part of my logo

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      The clip was awesome. I have an invisible disablity, as well as my daughter. My son is in a wheel chair.

      Where I work, I teach adults career skills, customer service being one of those. The clip is a great way to but how people with disablities sometimes feel.

      The other info on this page is awesome.

    • profile image

      Disability Help 

      9 years ago

      thanks, very helpful, informative and caring. It is a very important topic that cannot be ignored.

    • Madison22 profile image


      9 years ago from NYC

      Thank you for bringing more awareness to such an important topic. It is appreciated very much. Great hub!

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 

      9 years ago from Canada

      G Miah- I certainly hope so, everyone is a gift, and that is what people should remember.

    • G Miah profile imageAUTHOR

      Gous Ahmed 

      9 years ago from Muslim Nation

      @ RebeccaE

      Thank you for leaving a comment. It is a massive shame that people don't take other people for who they are when it comes to disabilities.

      Hopefully people will learn that God has given people some things and taken some things away from other people to make us think and become united in humanity.

    • G Miah profile imageAUTHOR

      Gous Ahmed 

      9 years ago from Muslim Nation

      Thanks Chris. It's very simple to understand something like this, but some people tend to be ignorant. Some people take things for granted and do not appreciate what they have, and it is getting worse day by day.

      I hope people who read this take it with them and learn for next time when they see a disablled person if it is a visible disability, or a hidden one for that matter.

    • christalluna1124 profile image


      9 years ago from Dallas Texas

      I wish others would take a lesson form you and learn to be more aware of the needs of those with disabilities. If you see my picture you can not see my disability, but I live with it and the stigma of it every day.

      Thanks for caring,


    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 

      9 years ago from Canada

      very informative and very true. I can see it from both sides, as I have dyslexia, but most people don't see that, they see a "disablility" really it's a small challenge which give a lot of joy.

    • G Miah profile imageAUTHOR

      Gous Ahmed 

      9 years ago from Muslim Nation

      Thank you kj8, it is very important to understand disability, because we all know someone who has a disability, but we may not know they have one.

      There are so many organisations that deliver disability awareness, and you may find it if you Google it.

    • kj8 profile image


      9 years ago from Australia

      great hub - I wish disability awareness was taught everywhere.

    • G Miah profile imageAUTHOR

      Gous Ahmed 

      9 years ago from Muslim Nation

      thanks coolmon, it's what people should know.

    • Coolmon2009 profile image


      9 years ago from Texas, USA

      good information

    • G Miah profile imageAUTHOR

      Gous Ahmed 

      9 years ago from Muslim Nation

      Christal, thank you very much for reading this hub, and i appreciate it for leaving a comment. Although i am not disabled i have a special power, which not many people have. This is being able to see and understand things from other people's point of view. I have met many people in my life, with different problems, but i have always been open minded about things. I took part in a Disability awareness course, and thought i should share my views with people out there.

    • christalluna1124 profile image


      9 years ago from Dallas Texas

      G Miah,

      Thank you for writing a very informative and touching. I have been disabled for over 10 1/2 years. I suffer from manic depressive illness, clinical depression, panic disorder, and crippling arthritis. I became disabled at about 34 years of age. Since that time my old friends do not come around, I guess they don't know what to say. I had a wonderful carrer in the criminal justice system and the federal and state courts. Now I mostly stay at home. But I facilitate two support groups and have made many friends that suffer the same illness as I. But it is appreciating to see someone like yourself see me still as human and with dignity and worth. I always remember to say "I'm a person with manic depressive illness" instead of I'm manic depressive. There is much more to me than my illness. I am now also a trained Master Teacher for adults and children suffering from mental diabilities.

      Warmest regards, christal

    • G Miah profile imageAUTHOR

      Gous Ahmed 

      9 years ago from Muslim Nation

      Thanks sensu0s. I went on a disability awareness training course, and i believe everyone should be aware and understand about disability, thank you for reading it.

    • sensu0s profile image


      9 years ago

      Disabled people are looked down upon by many people, that's right. Most of them even don't know how to treat a disabled person. I appreciate you for finding time to write such a valuable hub.


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