Is It Ever Okay to Ask?

If you are living with a disability, chances are you hear this question on the regular in some form or another: “So what happened to you?”

A blogger at Disability Today, discussed this question and how to respond to it — and his post is definitely worth a read. Jeff Tiessen describes himself as a “hook-wearing double arm amputee,” and notes that he gets asked about his injury on an almost daily basis. But Jeff says he doesn’t mind the question — what bothers him most is when people ask it. In his blog post, Jeff describes his encounter with a stranger who had come to his door:

But the new guy put me off and left me wondering again: when is it okay to ask? I suppose I was a little short with him. I felt he popped the question a little prematurely. Granted, there are no written rules of etiquette or decorum or appropriateness when it comes to asking someone how they lost their hands, or use of their legs, or sight, or whatever. But like most things in life, timing is everything isn’t it?

Maybe the first criteria is some familiarity, like at least knowing my name before asking how I lost both hands.

That got us thinking — is it about timing or the question itself? Of course, different people have different reactions — but knowing that, should the question be avoided until you bring it up? Or does avoiding it create the proverbial elephant in the room?

We want to hear from you! You can read Jeff’s full blog post here. Take a look, and let us know what you think. Is it ever okay to ask, or is it all about timing? If it’s all about timing, what advice would you give people about “asking etiquette”?

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