Disabilities Tips

And how to better serve People with Disabilities

Proper Etiquette in working with and serving People with Disabilities:

  1. Always focus on the individual, not the disability. Use "people first" language - meaning, refer to the individual first, then to his or her disability. (It is better to say "the person with a disability" rather than "the disabled.")

  2. When communicating with an individual with a disability, speak directly to the person with the disability, rather than their companion or interpreter.

  3. Any and all assistive devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, canes, communication boards, service animals, etc. should always be respected as personal property or extensions of that person. Do not use, lean on, play with, or move unless given permission.

  4. If you would like to offer assistance to a person with a disability, always ask first, wait until the offer is accepted, then listen patiently and follow their instructions. If the person declines your help, respect their decision, and do not proceed to assist.

  5. Never lean on the person's wheelchair, unless permitted. The chair is part of the space that belongs to the person who uses it.

  6. When greeting a person with a severe loss of vision, always identify yourself and others who may be with you. Example: "On my right is Robert Smith.

  7. When conversing in a group, which has a person who is blind or visually impaired, identify the person to whom you are speaking. Let the person know if you move or need to end the conversation.

  8. Do not shout at a person who is blind or visually impaired. He or she can hear you

  9. Never automatically guide a person with vision impairment. Allow the person to take your arm (at or about the elbow). This will enable you to guide rather than propel or lead the person.

  10. Avoid pointing or using non-descriptive directions such as "over there" or "up ahead" when speaking to a person who is blind or visually impaired. Words that are more appropriate are "two feet to your left" or "beside you on the right".

  11. Listen attentively when you are talking to a person who has speech impairments.

  12. Exercise patience rather than attempting to speak for a person with speech difficulty. When necessary, ask short questions that require short answers, a nod or a shake of the head.

  13. Speak with a normal tone of voice. Most speech-impaired persons can hear and understand without difficulty.

Thank you for assisting people with disabilities!