Disability Etiquette - United Spinal Association

Disability etiquette is a set of guidelines dealing specifically with how to approach persons with disabilities . Before knowing about disability etiquettes , it is essential to understand certain basic things such as if someone has a disability don’t assume he/she needs help . In fact , adults with disabilities wants to be treated as an independent persons , So offer help only if the person with disability seems to need it . Physical contact should be avoided . Always speak directly to the person with a disability , not to his/her friend . Persons with disabilities are the best judge of what they can or can’t do .

General Disability Etiquettes

Disability Etiquette | OSU TOPS Program

The general disability etiquettes are stated below :

  • Always put the person first , i.e., say ‘person with disability ‘ rather than ‘disabled person’ . Always avoid the outdated words like handicapped , retarded , physically challenged or differently – abled . For example , refer to ‘person who are blind ‘ rather than ‘ blind person ‘.
  • In case of introduction to a person with a disability , it is appropriate to shake hands .
  • When you meet a person with a visual impairment , always identify yourself and others who may be with you .
  • Leaning or hanging on a person ‘s wheelchair should always be avoided because such act is generally considered annoying . In fact , the chair is the part of the personal body space of the person who uses it.
  • Always listen carefully as well as attentively when you are having conversations with a person who has difficulty in speaking . Have patience and wait for the person to finish rather than correcting or speaking for that person . Generally , ask short questions that require short time .
  • When talking with a person who is on a wheelchair or person who uses crutches , keep yourself at eye level in front of the person to facilitate the talk .
  • To get the attention of a person who is deaf or having hearing impairment , tap the person on the shoulder or wave your hand . You should look directly at the person and speak clearly .
  • Never patronize person who use wheelchairs by patting them on the head or shoulder .
  • Always introduce yourself to persons who are blind using your name .
  • Always avoid asking personal questions to an individual who is differently-abled .
  • Always give additional time to a person with any disability to do or to say something .
  • Always have conversation at a normal tone of voice . Don’t talk in high pitch to such individuals .
  • Don’t pretend to understand if you are facing problem in doing so .
  • If you need to leave a person who is blind , inform him that you are leaving and ask him if he needs anything before you leave .