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Myths and Facts about People with Disabilities

Posted on 05/21/2024

The Easterseals website offers practical support and education about people living with a disability. With stereotypes leading to misinformation about the “barriers people with disabilities face,” this myth and facts sheet educates us on healthy ways to think about people with disabilities.

Easterseals website link

Myth 1: People with disabilities are brave and courageous.

Fact: “Adjusting to a disability requires adapting to a lifestyle, not bravery and courage.” Be mindful about using these terms as they are often “seen as offensive” to a person with a disability for simply existing.

Myth 2: All persons who use wheelchairs are chronically ill or sick.

Fact: A person using a wheelchair may not have any lingering illness.

Myth 3: Wheelchair use is confining; people who use wheelchairs are "wheelchair bound."

Fact: A wheelchair, like a bicycle or an automobile, is a personal assistive device that enables someone to get around.

Myth 4: All persons with hearing disabilities can read lips.

Fact: Lip-reading skills vary among people who use them and are never entirely reliable.

Myth 5: People who are blind acquire a "sixth sense."

Fact: Although most people who are blind develop their remaining senses more fully, they do not have a "sixth sense."

Myth 6: People with disabilities are more comfortable with "their own kind."

Fact: In the past, grouping people with disabilities in separate schools and institutions reinforced this misconception. Today, people with disabilities are in mainstream society.

Myth 7: Non-disabled people are obligated to "take care of" people with disabilities.

Fact: Anyone may offer assistance, but most people with disabilities prefer to be responsible for themselves.

Myth 8: Curious children should never ask people about their disabilities.

Fact: Many children have a natural, uninhibited curiosity and may ask questions that some adults consider embarrassing. But scolding curious children may make them think having a disability is "wrong" or "bad." Most people with disabilities won't mind answering a child's question – just ask and introduce your child beforehand.

Myth 9: The lives of people with disabilities are totally different than the lives of people without disabilities.

Fact: People with disabilities go to school, get married, work, have families, do laundry, grocery shop, laugh, cry, pay taxes, get angry, have prejudices, vote, plan and dream like everyone else.

Myth 10: It is all right for people without disabilities to park in accessible parking spaces, if only for a few minutes.

Fact: Because accessible parking spaces are designed and situated to meet the needs of people who have disabilities, these spaces should only be used by people who need them.

Myth 11: Most people with disabilities cannot have sexual relationships.

Fact: Anyone can have a sexual relationship by adapting the sexual activity. People with disabilities can have children naturally or through adoption. People with disabilities, like other people, are sexual beings.

Myth 12: People with disabilities always need help.

Fact: Many people with disabilities are independent and capable of giving help. If you would like to help someone with a disability, ask if he or she needs it before you act.

Myth 13: There is nothing one person can do to help eliminate the barriers confronting people with disabilities.

Fact: Everyone can contribute to change.

You can help remove barriers by:

  • Understanding the need for accessible parking and leaving it for those who need it
  • Encouraging participation of people with disabilities in community activities by using accessible meeting and event sites
  • Understanding children's curiosity about disabilities and people who have them
  • Advocating a barrier-free environment
  • Speaking up when negative words or phrases are used about disability
  • Writing producers and editors a note of support when they portray someone with a disability as a "regular person" in the media
  • Accepting people with disabilities as individuals capable of the same needs and feelings as yourself, and hiring qualified disabled persons whenever possible

More about inclusion:

Here are 10 ways to be more inclusive.

Disability Etiquette: Keep these tips in mind

What does it mean to have disability pride?

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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN220124 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.