Interviewing People With Disabilities

From ncdj.org

From ncdj.org

Posted By Malinda Jorgensen

All journalism students at Drake have to interview people for their articles for classes. Reporters for any publication will interview people at one time or another too. However, if you know before the interview that the interviewee is unique, for example disabled, what would you do?

All you can do is keep calm and do the interview. Here are a few tips  when it comes to interviewing:

1. ALWAYS ask if they need accommodations. Many people with disabilities have a variety of wanted accommodations, so I suggest you ask the interviewee, not wait for their response. But here’s a heads up for a few disabilities: If they are deaf with no hearing assistance, they will require an interpreter OR you will have to face them so they can read your lips. If they are in a wheelchair, make sure the place is accessible.

2. Talk  TO  the person. Do NOT talk to the aide/interpreter who is with them. It shows respect when you actually talk to them, and it shows that you are interviewing the disabled person not the aide/interpreter.

3. Focus on the person, NOT the disability. Otherwise, they will feel a bit self-conscious or maybe they will ignore you. For example, if someone is in a wheelchair, focus on the person, not the wheelchair. If you do that, they will respect you and let you interview them for your article.

4. When they are answering your questions, wait for them to finish their response. Some of them may take their time. For example,  a deaf person has to sign to an interpreter and the interpreter has to relay the information to you, so it may take a bit more time to communicate the answers to you.

5. It’s not always necessary to ask about how they got their disability unless you have their permission to talk about it. Most people with disabilities are willing to talk about it, but there are some people who gets offended when they are asked those kinds of questions.

Don’t be nervous about interviewing someone with a disability. Just be mindful of their accommodations, and you will be fine. Also keep a smile on your face!

Is interviewing someone with a disability drastically different than interviewing someone without a disability? Why or why not? 

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5 responses to “Interviewing People With Disabilities

  1. These are some great tips. To answer your question, your post suggests that it is very different to interview a person with a disability as opposed to someone who does not have one and I don’t thing there is anything wrong with that. It is common sense that you have to be extremely sensitive to the needs of those who are disabled even though our underlying goal should be to make them feel as though they are another person we would interview. In order to make them feel that way though you would have to carefully follow the five steps you mentioned above, but also keep other issues in mind depending on the person’s disability.

  2. Pingback: 10 BEST WAYS TO TREAT A DISABLED PERSON - Pro Motivator

  3. Faith,
    I agree with you that it is common sense to be sensitive to their needs.
    Keep in mind that the reporter shouldn’t be overly concerned/sensitive about following those five steps. They should be concerned enough to treat the person with a disability with a different kind of respect- similar to respecting any other interviewee.

  4. Thank you for posting this. I really feel that the line between being sensitive/adaptive and treating someone “too” gently is very blurred. We need to understand that the disability is not necessarily a hinderance to this person’s opinions or thoughts, and those are the things we are to collect. I interviewed a woman with Asperger’s syndrome last year for Think, and the process actually left me feeling proud of my work and wanting to make the story even more special, not sorry for her or feeling like she was any different. The interview did take some of the actions you mentioned in your tips!

  5. I agree with you that the line between sensitive and treating someone gently is blurred. It’s like when people talk to deaf people (with no hearing assistance). They shouldn’t over enunciate what they are saying, but they do need to enunciate enough so the deaf person can understand. At the same time, it varies from person to person.

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