How Can You Help?
April 1976

“How Can You Help?” Ensign, Apr. 1976, 28

How Can You Help?

Paraplegics and others with physical disabilities:

  1. Learn to handle a wheelchair, to push it, put it away, etc.

  2. Some stakes assign three people to work together as home teaching or visiting teaching companions, so that the two nonhandicapped persons can help their disabled companion with his wheelchair, etc.

  3. Build doorways wide enough for wheelchairs and install ramps instead of all steps.

  4. Encourage them to develop talents, participate in activities, and be independent.


  1. Recognize that there are many degrees of blindness and adapt your help to what is needed.

  2. Offer assistance only when needed. For example, read the menu to the blind person, but don’t order for him.

  3. Let him take your hand or elbow or shoulder when walking with him; don’t grab him and shove him along.

  4. Talk normally to him; don’t avoid “seeing” words and expressions such as “Look at this.”

  5. Prepare him for unexpected hazards when walking with him, such as “The door opens out,” and “There is a small step here.”


  1. Recognize that there are many degrees of deafness ranging from the hard of hearing to those who have gone deaf to those who have never heard. Different problems require different kinds of assistance.

  2. Speak distinctly, but avoid excessive “mouthing.”

  3. Face them when speaking, with the light on your face if possible.

  4. Encourage them to take part in oral recitation in classes.

  5. Seat them in an appropriate place so they can hear better.

  6. Ask questions to be sure they have understood what you said. Encourage them to ask questions when they don’t understand.

  7. Learn sign and manual language if you have contact with a person who uses it.

  8. Find ways of including them in conversations, cuing them in with such phrases as “We were talking about …” Ask for their opinions and comments.

Mental Disability:

  1. Many persons with mental disabilities can learn a great deal. They have many of the same needs and interests of others their age.

  2. Try to pair them with peers of greater ability in planning presentations or activities.

  3. Praise them, give them opportunities to participate; utilize their strengths; accept them as they are.

Other hints:

  1. Experiment with being blind, deaf, or paralyzed. Blindfold yourself for an afternoon or a day. Try riding around in a wheelchair.

  2. Prepare your children for meeting the handicapped. Explain different handicaps to them frankly and clearly.

  3. Volunteer to teach a handicapped person one of your skills, such as playing the piano, swimming, or knitting.

  4. Remember that they also have all the other needs of human beings, such as a listening when they are discouraged.

Illustrated by Scott Rockwood