Fear of the unknown and lack of knowledge about how to act can lead to uneasiness when meeting a person who has a disability.
Remember: a person with a disability is a person with feelings. Treat him or her as you would want to be treated.
You can't always see some one's disability. If a person acts unusual or seems different, just be yourself. Let common sense and friendship break down any barriers you may encounter.
Following these guidelines may help prevent uncomfortable situations.
Basic Points of Etiquette...
1. Avoid asking personal questions about some one's disability. If you must ask, be sensitive and show respect. Do not probe, if the person declines to discuss it.
When speaking or writing about disability...
1. Refer to a person's disability only when necessary and appropriate.
4. Avoid terms that imply that people with disabilities are overly courageous, brave, special, or superhuman.
1. Do not refer to a person's disability unless it is relevant.
1. A handshake is NOT a standard greeting for everyone. When in doubt, ASK the person whether he or she would like to shake hands with you. A smile along with a spoken greeting is always appropriate.
When meeting someone with a disability that affects learning, intelligence, or brain function...
1. Keep your communication simple. Rephrase comments or questions for better clarity.
When you are with a person who uses a wheelchair...
1. Do not push, lean on, or hold onto a person's wheelchair unless the person asks you to. The wheelchair is part of his or her personal space.
Talking with a person who is deaf or uses a hearing aid...
1. Let the person take the lead in establishing the communication mode, such as lip-reading, sign language, or writing notes.
When meeting a person with a disability that affects speech...
1. Pay attention, be patient, and wait for the person to complete a word or thought. Do not finish it for the person.
Interacting with a person who is blind or has a disability that affects sight or vision...
1. When greeting the person, identify yourself and introduce others who may be present.
2. Don't leave the person without excusing yourself first.
3. When asked to guide someone with a sight disability, never push or pull the person. Allow him or her to take your arm, then walk slightly ahead. Point out doors, stairs, or curbs, as you approach them.
4. As you enter a room with the person, describe the layout and location of furniture, etc.
5. Be specific when describing the location of objects. (Example: "There is a chair three feet from you at eleven o'clock.")
6. Don't pet or distract a guide dog. The dog is responsible for its owner's safety and is always working. It is not a pet.