Attitudinal barriers may not be as easily identified as physical barriers, but for people with disabilities, societal attitudes may be the most difficult barriers of all to overcome. But what makes up an attitudinal barrier? One of the most common attitudinal barriers includes patronizing behaviors and language which can be unfortunately all too commonplace.
Examples of patronizing behaviors:
- Patting people in wheelchairs or of short stature on the head
- Praising people with disabilities for doing normal, everyday activities (i.e. comments such as "look at you!" "you're doing great!")
- Calling people with disabilities "inspirational."
- Speaking in a louder or higher pitched tone of voice as if speaking to a child.
- Avoiding eye contact and speaking down to a person who may be seated in a wheelchair.
- Feeling sorry or pitying people for their disability.
- Addressing the accompanying person (friend, family, caregiver, partner) when a person with a disability is out in public rather than speaking directly to the person him or herself.
- Asking the friends or family of people of small stature or seated in wheelchairs if they would like a children's menu or a booster seat in restaurants.
Depending on the day, many of us may put a brave smile on our faces and walk away or address the behavior and engage in a conversation. What do you do in these types of situations? Share in the comments!