I may be different but...

You may think I'm different but, we are really just the same. If you can look past our differences, you may be able to see how similar we truly are.
Can you see yourself in one of these?

Pictures compiled from Pixabay and Google and put together by Yvonne Garris

When you see me do you?
Stop and stare? Is that because you are afraid of me for some reason? Do you have questions you would like to ask me? I would love to answer your questions instead of being stared at. After all, I am just a person like you.
Do you pull your children out of the way? Is that because you are trying to be nice to me, or because you are afraid of me? If your child has questions, do you answer them? Do you know how to answer them?

Let me tell you about me.

I am blind

This could mean I do not see anything or I can see a little bit, yes I know it's confusing, trust me it's confusing for me to try to explain how much I see. If you see me using a white cane, this helps me see. I use it so I can "see" things that are coming up in front of me so I don't fall and I have an idea of where I am and where I am going. It is really amazing how much you can tell from a white cane. Never touch or grab a person's white cane, it is like grabbing my eyes and my throw me off balance or make me disorientated. Some blind people use a guide dog. This dog has a lot of training and helps me get around safely. If you see me using a guide dog please do not pet the dog because he is working and needs to concentrate on what he is doing. Never talk to the dog, please talk to me, and if you just can't help yourself you may ask if you can pet the dog, but please do not get upset if I say no. Again these dogs have been through a lot of training, and if we treat them like pets they may forget their training, and then they will not be able to do their jobs.
Please do not use the phrases over there or other vague directions, they really mean nothing to me.
The one thing to remember, please treat me like a person. I would much rather answer your questions rather than for you to stare at me.

I am a deaf person

You may not be able to tell I am different until you try to talk to me. I may have some hearing and use a hearing aid and/or read your lips so please remember to always look at me. If I have an interpreter with me please look at me, after all I am the one that you are talking to. I may or may not be able to talk to you, but again, please look at me, I may be able to read your lips and look to the interpreter for verification of what you are saying.
It is not difficult to learn sign language; there are even apps for your phone you may want to check out.

I am in a wheelchair

Just because I am in a wheelchair does not mean my mind works any differently than yours. While there are some people in wheelchairs that do have multiple disabilities please do not assume I am one of them. Do not run in front of me, I may be going faster than you think. There are different types of wheelchairs, some are powered by people and some are electric, and then you have the power chairs (they look like chairs but are powered). Please do not assume I need help, I can generally do just about anything you can do (okay maybe not push-ups, but who really wants to do them anyway). I do need the large handicap bathroom, so if you are not in a chair please do not use that stall.
As I have said before, please do not stare, if you have questions please ask me, I'm more than happy to answer.

As you can see we are more alike than different.
We all want to be treated with respect and fairness no matter how we look. Take a look around you; see how you may be different from the people around you. A disability is not required to be different. The next time you see someone with a disability, instead of staring go up, and say hello, you might just make a new friend.