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ELEVEN STEPS OF disability ETIQUETTE
- Offer assistance as you would anyone else, for example, to push a wheelchair or to guide a person who is blind. The person will indicate whether the help is needed, and a “no, thank you” must be respected. Most persons with disabilities will not hesitate to ask for needed help and will be specific as to how it should be given. For example, a person who is blind usually prefers to hold your arm rather than to have you grab his or her arm.
- Noticing a person with an obvious disability is not rude; however asking personal questions about a person’s disability is inappropriate at times. Be aware of the surrounding before inquiring.
- Always talk directly to persons with disabilities rather than to the person who may be accompanying him or her. Never talk about the person with disability to the person he or she is with as if the person does not exist. This includes an interpreter for persons who are deaf.
- Do not be concerned if you use the words “walking” or “running” when talking to a person who use a wheelchair, or “do you see?” when talking to a person who is blind. Persons with disabilities use these terms themselves and think nothing of it.
- Do not avoid using words like blind or deaf when associating with people with these disabilities. Persons with disabilities know that they have them and do not need to be shielded from the facts.
- When talking with a person using a wheelchair for any length of time, it is better to sit down in other to be at the same eye level.
- Be sensitive to architectural barriers in your facility. Be aware of federal and state laws that may apply to eliminate barriers in your establishment. Everyone must be concerned and alert to this very real problem
- Remember that if a person does not turn around in response to a call, it may be that he or she is deaf. A light tap on the shoulder to get a person’s attention makes sense.
- Never gesture about a person who is blind to someone who is present. This will be inevitably picked up and make the person who is blind feel that you are “talking behind his or her back”.
- Never address a service animal, these animals are working and you must gain permission from the owner before touching or speaking to the service animal.
- Lip reading by a person who is deaf can be aided by being sure that the light is on your face and not behind you, and by taking all obstructions such as pipes, cigarettes or gum out of the mouth, keeping lips flexible, and speaking slowly. Additional communication could include body language, pantomime and gestures of all kinds, and written communication when an interpreter is not available.
Commissioner Arkansas Rehabilitation Services